tv Washington This Week CSPAN October 14, 2012 10:30am-2:00pm EDT
their numbers and timed to be reflected in the latest job numbers that came out. i have not had those discussions with chairman issa our committee staff. >> you have to leave it there. up on the conversation of this so-called fiscal cliff that we're facing. he asked him about that. what is happening right now? what did you hear? >> it is interesting. ever wish i to figure out these situations. we cannot even begin to figure of these scenario until november 7. it is clear they're not thinking seriously until they know who has won.
it is very interesting that he said he would allow sequestration to take effect even if nothing else happens. other republicans have indicated that they want to delay sequestration, but a better plan. sounds like he and his colleagues would not be on board with that. >> that is a big take away from this interview. he said do not suspend sequestration. on this. yet some of these talks saying that we need to do what ever it takes to stop the defense cuts from happening. we will let those go into these affect -- those go into affect. vote
count? >> he does not have sway over all those people. have this. they will abandon their desire for spending cuts when the subject comes up. >> do you think there is enough conservatives to bring trouble for speaker john boehner when he brings something to the floor? >> absolutely. that is the biggest lesson of the 112 congress. he does not control them. people are adamant about holding themselves firm. i do not see how he brokers any deal. i don't just mean in a lame duck. if the make about the house is not change radically, i do not see how he broke is still in
the 113 either. suspending sequestration? >> they would certainly support it. there of this mind that there is something you want to avoid. the senate is concerned about this. the political calculation is going to be interesting. he will probably be able to get the vote if you wanted to. he could rely on did a cripes. this could be catastrophic for him. >> are the conservatives, are there enough and services that are open to what they gang of 8 yes said to cut something bipartisan, are there enough conservatives to be open to this? >> it really depends somewhat
about whether he was planned to use nuclear weapons. why is this important? when nuclear-weapons were pretty new and we threaten to use them at various stages, nobody ever knew whether he was serious or not and whether he meant that. you have to be credible. talk about loneliness command. what could be a greater decision then that that he ran the allied invasion. he is president and has an even greater level of response ability. we are building a whole arsenal of nuclear weapons. are we going to use these things are not?
ike use them as a tool. he used this as a tool to avoid any war. >> evan thomas on "ike's bluff." >> on thursday, a vice president joe biden and republican vice- presidential candidates paul ryan that in their only debate at center college in kentucky. the moderator was martha radditz. this is just over 1.5 hours. ba>> good evening and welcome to
the first and only vice- presidential debate of 2012. i am martha raddatz. i am honored to moderate this debate between the two men who have dedicated much of their lives to public service. it is divided between domestic and foreign policy issues. i will move back and forth between foreign and domestic. we will have nine different segments. at the beginning of each segment, i will ask both candidates a question and they will each have two minutes to answer. i will encourage discussion between the candidate with follow-up question. it has been determined that the vice president biden will be first to answer the opening question. we have a wonderful audience here at centre college. right now, we welcome vice president joe biden and
congressman paul ryan. [applause] >> good evening, gentlemen. it is an honor to be here with both of you. i would like to begin with libya. on a rather somber note, one month ago tonight on the anniversary of 9/11, ambassador stevens and three other brave americans were killed in a terrorist attack in benghazi. the state department has made clear there were no protesters
there. it was a preplanned assault by heavily armed men. wasn't this a massive intelligence failure? >> chris stevens was one of our best. we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. we will get to the bottom of it and wherever the facts lead us, we will make clear, whatever mistakes were made will not be made again. you should take a look at his most important responsibility. that is caring for the national security of the country.
take a look at how he has handled the issues of the day. on iraq, the president has said he would end the war. governor romney said that was a tragic mistake. we should have left 30,000 troops there. with regard to afghanistan, he said he will end the war in 2014. governor romney said we should not set a date. when it came to osama bin laden, the president, the first day in office, i was sitting with him in the oval office and he called in the cia, my highest priority is to get bin laden. prior to the election, governor romney was asked the question about how we would proceed. he did not understand it was more about restoring america's heart. if you do harm to america, we will track you to the gates of hell. the president of the united states has led with a steady hand and a clear vision. governor romney, the opposite.
the last thing we need now is another war. >> we mourn the loss of these four americans who were murdered. you take a look at what has happened in the last few weeks. they sent the u.n. ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a youtube video. it took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack. he went to the u.n. and he said six times the youtube video. if we are hit by terrorists, we are going to call it. our ambassador in paris has a marine detachment guarding him. should we have the marine detachment guarding our ambassador in benghazi? we knew there was an al qaeda cell. this is becoming more troubling by the day. they first blamed the youtube video.
now they are blaming the romney- ryan ticket. we had the same position before the withdrawal. let's make sure we secure our gains. the vice-president was put in charge of those negotiations by president obama. he failed to get the agreement. that is what we were talking about. when it comes to our veterans, we owe them a great debt of gratitude. including your son. we also want to make sure that we do not lose the things we fought so hard to get. with respect to afghanistan, we agree with a 2014 transition. we want to make sure we are not projecting weakness abroad. this benghazi issue, it is indicative of a broader probm.
what we're watching on our tv screens is the unraveling of the obama foreign policy. it is making the world more chaotic. >> i want to talk about, in the middle of the crisis, governor romney talked about apologies from the obama administration. was that appropriate in the middle of the crisis? >> on that same day, the obama administration was in that same position. they disavowed their own statement they put up earlier in the day in cairo. it is never too early to speak out for our values. we should have spoken out right away. we should always stand up for peace, democracy, individual rights. we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts.
when we equivocate on our values, it make us look weak. when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us. >> that is a bunch of malarkey. this lecture on embassy security. the congressman cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for. so much for the embassy security. governor romney, before he knew the facts, before he knew that the ambassador was killed, he was out making political statements. he was panned by the media around the world. this talk about this weakness, i do not understand what my friend is talking about. this is a president who has done everything he has said he is
going to do. he has repaired our alliances. this is a guy who brought the entire world to bring about the most -- the most devastating efforts on iran to make sure they stop. these guys bet against america all the time. >> let me go back to libya. what were you first told about the attack? why were people talking about protests? when people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. >> we were told by the intelligence community -- as they learned more facts about what happened, they changed their assessment. that is why there is also an investigation as to whether or not there were any lapses.
>> they wanted more security there. >> we did not know they wanted more security. by the way, at the time, we were told exactly what the intelligence community told us they knew. that was the assessment. they changed their view and made it clear they changed their view. we will get to the bottom of this. usually in a crisis, we pull together as a nation. even before we knew what happened to the ambassador, the governor was holding a press conference. that is not presidential leadership. >> i want to ask you about -- the romney campaign talks a lot about no apologies. should the u.s. have apologized
for americans burning korans in afghanistan? should the u.s. apologize for americans urinating on taliban corpses? >> what we should not be apologizing for are standing up for our values. what we should not be doing is saying to the egyptian people, mubarak is cracking down on them, that he is a good guy. and the next day, saying he ought to go. we should not be rejecting claims for more security. we need more marines in benghazi. there were requests for extra security, those requests were not honored. this was the anniversary of 9/11. it was libya, a country we knew we had al qaeda there. al qaeda and its affiliates are on the rise in northern africa. we did not give our ambassador in benghazi a marine detachment. we should not apologize for our values. look at all the various issues
out there. the vice president talks about sanctions in iran. >> i would like to move to iran. there is really no bigger national security issue in this country. both president obama and governor romney said it will prevent iran from getting nuclear weapons even if that means military action. last week, former defense secretary said a strike on iran's facility would not work and could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations. can the two of you be absolutely clear and specific to the american people how was that would military strike be? >> we cannot allow iran to gain nuclear weapons capability. let's take a look that where we have come from. when barack obama was elected,
they had enough material to make one bomb. now they have enough for five. they are four years closer towards nuclear weapons capability. we have had four different sanctions. the only reason we got it was because of russia watered it down. mitt romney proposed these sanctions in 2007. the administration was blocking us every step of the way. only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough sanctions were we able to overrule the objections and put them in in spite of the administration. look at what they are doing. they're stepping up their terrorist attacks.
they tried a terrorist attack in the united states last year. talk about credibility. when this administration says all options are on the table, they send all these mixed signals. in order to solve this peacefully, you have to have the ayatollahs change their minds. look at where they are. it is because this administration has no credibility on this issue. this administration watered down sanctions. now we have been in place because of congress. the military option is not being viewed as credible. make sure we have credibility. under a romney administration, we will have credibility. >> incredible. do you think there is any possibility the entire world would have joined us? russia and china? these are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions. period. when the governor is asked about it, he said, we have to
keep the sanctions. you're going to go to war? the interesting thing, how are they going to prevent war? saye is nothing more they'd we should do than what we have already done. with regard to the ability of the united states to take action militarily, it is not in my purview to talk about classified information. we feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the iranians. the iranians are -- the israelis and united states intelligence communities are the same exact place in terms of how close the iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. there is no difference between our view and theirs. when my friend talks about material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, then they have to be able to
have something to put it in. there is no weapon the iranians have at this point. both the israelis and we will know if they start the process. all this bluster i keep hearing, what are they talking about? are you talking about to be more credible? what more can the president do? directly communicate to the ayatollah. we will not let them to acquire a nuclear weapon. theet's look at this from view of the ayatollahs. what do they see? they see this administration trying to water down sanctions in congress for over two years. they're moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. they see us saying, we need more space for their ally israel. they see president obama in new
york city the same day -- instead of meeting netanyahu, goes on a daily talk show. when we say that these options are on the table, the secretary of defense walked them back. they are not changing their minds. that is what we have to do, change their minds. >> you both saw benjamin netanyahu hold up that picture of obama with a red line and talking about the red line being in spring. can you solve this? if you are elected, can you solve this in two months before spring and avoid -- >> we can debate the timeline. i agree that it is longer.
we both agreed that to do this peacefully, you have to get them to change their minds. they are not changing their minds. >> the ayatollah sees an economy being crippled. 50% fewer exports of oil. the currency is going in the tank. he sees the economy going into free-fall. he sees the world totally united in opposition. the president has met him a dozen times. he has spoken to netanyahu as much as he has spoken to anybody. just before he went to the un, i was in a conference call with the president talking for well over an hour. stark detail about what was going on. >> what does that mean? >> the irish call it malarkey.
we will not allow the iranians to get a nuclear weapon. when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium in half to put into a weapon, they do not have a weapon to put it into. calm down. iran is more isolated today than when we took office. it is totally isolated. i do not know what world these guys are in. >> in spite of their opposition. they had given 20 waivers to this section. all i have to point to our results. >> can you tell the american people -- >> they are closer to being
able to get another -- enough material to put it in a weapon if they had a weapon. facts matter, martha. you are a foreign policy expert, facts matter. all of this loose talk, not true. not true. if we ever have to take action, we will have the world behind us. that matters. that matters. >> what about bob gates? let me read it again. "could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations." >> he is right. >> it undermines our credibility by backing up the point where we make it or all options are on the table.
the ayatollahs see these kinds of statements and they think, i am going to get a nuclear weapon. when we see the kind of equivocation that took place because this administration wanted a precondition policy, they were silent for nine days. when they see us putting daylight between ourselves and our allies in israel, that gives them encouragement. when they see russia watering down any further sanctions, the only reason we got a u.n. sanction was because russia watered it down. when they see this type of activity, they are encouraged to continue. >> let me ask you what is worse, war in the middle east or nuclear arms iran? >> a nuclear arms iran, which triggers a nuclear arms race in the middle east. this is the world's largest sponsor of terrorism. they call us the great satan.
if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their >> war should always be the absolute last resort. that is why these crippling sanctions -- if i am not mistaken, governor romney says we should continue. i may be mistaken, he changes his mind so often, i could be wrong. he says they're working. they are being crippled by them. we have made it clear, big nations cannot bluff. this president does not bluff. >> the number-one issue here at home is jobs. the percentage of unemployed just fell below 8% for the first time in 43 months. the obama administration had projected that it would fall below 6% after the addition of close to a trillion dollars in stimulus money.
will both of you level with the american people? can you get unemployment to under 6%? how long will it take? >> we can and we will. let's look at where we were when we came to office. the economy was in freefall. we had the great recession. 9 million people lost their jobs. $1.60 trillion in wealth lost, equity in your homes, retirement accounts. we immediately went out and rescued general motors. we went ahead and made sure we cut taxes. in addition to that, when that occurred, what did romney do? let detroit go bankrupt. for a guy who says 47% of the american people are unwilling to take responsibility.
my friend recently gave a speech to washington state, 30% of the american people are takers. these people are my mom and dad. they are elderly people who are living off social security. there are veterans and people fighting in afghanistan right now who are "not paying any taxes." it's about time they take some responsibility. instead of signing pledges to grover norquist, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class, we will level the playing field. we will give you a fair shot again. we will not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for wall street and main street, making sure we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the super wealthy.
they are holding hostage the middle class tax cut because they say we won't continue the middle class tax cut unless you give the tax cut for the super wealthy. it is about time they take some responsibility. >> joe and i are from similar towns. do you know what the unemployment rate in scranton is today? 10%. that is how is going all around america. >> that is not how it is going. it is going down. >> did they inherit a tough situation? absolutely. but we're going in the wrong direction. the economy is barely limping along.
job growth in september was slower than it was in august and august was slower than it was in july. we're heading in the wrong direction. 23 million americans are struggling for work. 15% of americans are living in poverty. this is not what a real recovery looks like. we need real reforms for a real recovery. that is exactly what we are proposing. get america energy independent by the end of the decade. get this deficit and debt under control. make trade work for america. champion small businesses, do not raise taxes on small businesses. they are our job creators. he talks about detroit. mitt romney is a car guy. this is a guy who -- i was talking to a family in massachusetts the other day.
their kids were hit in a car crash. two of them were paralyzed. they went to the same church. mitt asked if he could come over on christmas. he brought his boys and his wife and gifts. i know you are struggling, do not worry about college, i will pay for it. mitt romney does not tell these stories. it was not the cash, he gave his time, and he has consistently. this is a man who gave 30% of its income to charity, more of the two of us combined. he is a good man. he cares about 100% of americans in the country. the vice president knows that sometimes the words do not come out of your mouth the right way. [laughter] >> i always say what i mean.
>> we want everybody to succeed. we want to get everybody out of poverty. we believe in opportunity. that is what we're going to push for. >> i have a feeling you have a few things to say. >> the idea, if you heard that soliloquy on 47%, that he just made a mistake, i have a bridge to sell you. i do not doubt his personal generosity. when i was a little younger than the congressman, my wife was in an accident. killed my daughter, and my two sons survived. i have sat in the homes of many people. to know they know you have been through it, that they can make it. i do not doubt his personal commitment to individuals. but do you know what?
he had no commitment to the automobile industry. he said, let it go bankrupt. all this talk, we saved a million jobs. 200,000 people are working today. i have never met two guys more down on america across the board. 5.2 million new jobs. we need more, but 5.2 million. if they would get out of the way and let us pass the tax cuts, pass the jobs bill, just get out of the way. stop talking about how you care about people. show me something. show me a policy where you take responsibility. by the way, they talk about this great recession like it fell out of the sky.
i was there. we cannot afford that. all of a sudden, these guys are so seized with the concern about the debt. >> let's not forget that they came in with one-party control. when barack obama was elected, his party controlled everything. they had the ability to do everything of their choosing. they passed the stimulus. the idea that we could borrow $831 billion and spend it on all of these special interest groups and would work out just fine. they said if we just passed the stimulus, the economy would grow at 4%. it is growing at 1.3%. >> when could you get below 6%? >> that is what our entire
premise is about. look at the $90 billion in stimulus. the vice-president was in charge of overseeing this. $90 billion to campaign contributors and special interest groups. the department of energy, over 100 criminal investigations. >> an investigative committees spent months and months. they found no evidence of cronyism. i love my friend. i am not allowed to show letters, but go on our website. he sent me two letters, by the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies in the state of wisconsin? >> you did ask for stimulus, correct? >> constituents applying for grants.
we did that for all constituents. >> i love that. that is a bad program and he writes me a letter. the reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs. his words. and now he is sitting here -- by the way, that program, what the congress said was that it was a model. all this talk about cronyism. they investigated and did not find one single piece of evidence. i wish he would just -- >> was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on windmills in china? was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like china and spend it on all these different interest groups? >> it was a good idea that this was exactly what we needed to stop us from going off the cliff. 4% of those green went under.
it is a better batting average that investment bankers have. >> where are the 5 million green jobs? >> i want to move on to medicare and entitlements. >> any letter you send me, i will entertain. >> both medicare and social security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget. will benefits for americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive? >> absolutely. medicare and social security are going bankrupt. when i look at these programs, we have all had tragedies in our lives, i think about what they have done for my own family. my mom and i had my grandmother move in with us who was facing alzheimer's. medicare was there for her. after my dad died, my mom and i
got social security survivors' benefits. it helped her to go back to college in her 50s. she started a small business. she paid all her taxes on the promise that these programs would be there for her. we will honor this promise. if you reform these programs for my generation, you can guarantee they don't change for people near retirement. that is what mitt romney and i are proposing. look what obamacare does. obamacare takes $716 billion from medicare to spend on obamacare. even their own chief actuary of medicare backs this up. you cannot claim that this money goes to medicare and obamacare. and then they put this new obamacare board in charge of cutting medicare each and every year. this board is 15 people.
not one of them even has to have medical training. social security, when the program goes bankrupt, a 25% across-the-board benefit cuts kicks in on current seniors in the middle of their retirement. we will stop that from happening. they have not put a credible solution on the table. he will tell you about the vouchers. he will say all these things to try to scare people. give younger people guaranteed coverage options. you cannot be denied, including traditional medicare. more coverage for middle income people and total coverage for the poor and sick. >> i heard that the death panel argument from sarah palin.
let's talk about medicare. we saved $716 billion and put it back into medicare. we cut the cost to medicare. we stopped overpaying insurance companies. the ama supported what we did. aarp supported what we did. they want to wipe this out. it also gave more benefits, any seniors out there, did you have more benefits today? you do. you get wellness visits without copays. guaranteed benefits. it is a voucher. when they first proposed -- the cbo said it would cost $6,400 a
year more for every senior 55 and below when they got there. he knew that. yet he got all the guys in congress to vote for it. governor romney said, i would sign it. who do you believe? the ama, me, or somebody who would put in motion a plan that knowingly adds $6,400 a year more to the cost of medicare? now they have a new plan. trust me, it will not cost you any more. folks, follow your instincts. with regard to social security, we will not privatize. if you listened to mitt romney and the congressmen during the bush years, imagine where all of those seniors would be now if the money had been in the market. their ideas are old and their ideas are bad and eliminate the guarantee of medicare.
>> they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar turning medicare into a piggy bank for obamacare. their own actuary came to congress and said, one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business as a result of this. 7.4 million seniors are projected to lose the medicare coverage they have. >> more people signed up for medicare advantage after the change. >> i know you are under a lot of duress. >> do not take all of the four minutes. >> do not change benefits for people 55 and above. >> let me ask you this. what is your specific plan for seniors who really cannot afford to make the difference in the value of what you called a
premium support plan and others called a voucher? >> by taking down the subsidies for wealthy people. this is a plan. $6,400 was misleading then and it is totally inaccurate now. this is a plan that is bipartisan. i put it together with a prominent democrat senator. >> there is not one democrat who has endorsed that. >> we put it together with the former clinton budget director. here is the point. if we do not fix this soon, current seniors get caught. 10,000 people are retiring every single day. >> if we just allow medicare to
bargain for the cost of drugs, that would save $156 billion right off the bat. folks, all you seniors, have you been denied choices? have you lost medicare advantage? >> if it could help solve the problem, why not very slowly raise the medicare eligibility age by two years? >> i was there when we did that with social security in 1983. i was one of eight people negotiating with president reagan. we all got together and everybody said as long as everybody is in the deal, and everybody is making some sacrifice, we can find a way. we made the system solvent to 2033. we will not be part of any
voucher plan eliminating -- the doctor says, mom, when you are 65, shop for the best insurance, you are out of medicare. it will not keep pace with health care costs. if it did keep pace, there would be no savings. that is why they go to the voucher. we will be no part of the voucher program or the privatization of social security. >> nobody is proposing that. barack obama, four years ago, if you do not have any fresh ideas, use scare tactics to scare voters. if you do not have a good record, paint your opponent as someone people should run from. >> what we said then and what i
have always agreed, let younger americans have a voluntary choice of making their money work faster for them. what we are saying is no changes for anybody 55 and above. the kind of changes we're talking about for younger people, do not increase the benefits for wealthy people. >> quickly, vice president. >> all the studies show if we went with social security proposal made by mitt romney, if you are in your 40's now, you will pay $2,600 less in social security. the idea of changing, to cut the benefits for people without taking other action to make it work, it is absolutely the wrong way.
these guys have not been big on medicare from the beginning. their party has not been big on medicare from the beginning. they have always been about social security as little as you can do. who do you trust on this? a man who introduced a bill that would raise it $6,400 a year, knowing it and passing it? or me and the president? >> that was completely misleading. this is what politicians do when they do not have a record to run on. >> medicare beneficiaries -- >> we are going to move on. >> medicare and social security did so much for my own family, we will not jeopardize this program. >> you are changing the program from a guaranteed benefit. people are going to have to pay more money out of their pockets.
>> gentlemen. i would like to move on to a very simple question. something tells me i will not get a very simple answer. if your ticket is elected, who will pay more in taxes? who will pay less in taxes? >> middle-class will pay less and people making a million dollars or more will begin to contribute slightly more. the continuation of the bush tax cuts, we are arguing the bush tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire. $800 billion of that goes to people making a million dollars. we see no justification for those -- they are patriotic americans, they are not suggesting the tax cut.
120,000 families will get an additional $500 billion in tax relief in the next 10 years. their income is an average of $8 million. we want to extend the middle class tax cuts permanently. these guys will not allow us to. we say, let's have a vote. they are holding hostage the middle class tax cut to the super wealthy. all the studies point out will get another $250,000 a year to those 120,000 families and raise taxes for families who are middle income with a child by to $2000 a year. this is unconscionable.
there is no need for this. the middle class got knocked on their heels. the great recession crushed them. the last people who need help are 120,000 families for another $500 billion tax cut. >> our entire premise is to grow the economy and create jobs. it is a plan that is estimated to create 7 million jobs. we think the government taking 20% of the families and businesses income is enough. president obama thinks the government ought to be able to take as much as 44.8%. if you tax every person and successful small-business making over $250,000 at over 100%, you can only run a government for 98 days. there are not enough rich
people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending. the next time you hear them say, do not worry about it, watch out, middle-class, the tax bill is coming to you. that is why we are saying, eight out of 10 businesses, they file their taxes as individuals, not as corporations. near where i come from, the canadians dropped their tax rate to 15%. the average tax rate on businesses is 25%. the president wants the top tax rate to go above 40%. two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses.
it does not pay for 10% of the deficit spending increases. lower tax rates across the board and close loopholes. we have three bottom lines. do not raise the deficit, do not raise taxes on the middle class, do not lower the share that is borne by the high income earners. it has been discredited by six other studies and even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it was not correct. >> let's talk about this. you have refused to offer specifics on how you would pay for that 20% across the board. do you actually have the specifics or are you still working on it? >> different than this administration, we want to have a big bipartisan agreement. >> do you have the specifics?
>> look at what ronald reagan and tip o'neill did. we raise about $1.20 trillion through income taxes. we forgo about $1.10 trillion in loopholes and deductions. deny those loopholes and deductions to higher income tax payers. so we can lower tax rates across the board. >> i hope i am going to get time to respond. >> we want to work with congress on how best to achieve this. >> no specifics. >> lower tax rate 20%. start with the wealthy. >> you guarantee that this math adds up. >> let me have a chance to
translate. i was there with ronald reagan. he gave specifics in terms of tax expenditures. 97% of the small businesses make less than $250,000. hedge funds that make $600 million a year. let's look at how sincere they are. governor romney on "60 minutes," 10 days ago, was asked, you pay 14% on $20 million. someone making $50,000 pays more than that. do think that is fair? he said, yes, that is fair. you think these guys are going to cut those loopholes? the biggest loophole they take advantage of is that carried interest loophole and capital gains loophole. there is not enough -- the reason why the american
enterprise institute study, the reason they all say it is going to go up for the middle class, the only way you can find $5 trillion in loopholes is cut the mortgage deduction for middle-class people. cut the health care deduction for middle-class people. that is why -- >> he is wrong about that. >> not mathematically possible. >> it has been done before. >> it has never been done before. >> it has been done a couple of times. >> now you are jack kennedy. [laughter] >> republicans and democrats have worked together on this. i understand you guys are not used to doing bipartisan deals.
that is how you get things done. >> the republican congress working? 7% rating? >> mitt romney was governor of massachusetts. he did not demonize them, he did not demagogue them. he met with those party leaders every week. he did not compromise principles. he balanced the budget. >> why isn't he contesting massachusetts? >> what would you suggest beyond raising taxes on the wealthy? >> let the taxes expire like they were supposed to on these millionaires. we cannot afford $800 billion going to people making a minimum of a million dollars. they do not need it, martha. those 120,000 families make $800 million a year. why is my friend --
>> can you declare anything off- limits? home mortgage deductions? >> this taxes a million small businesses. >> 97% of the small businesses make less than $250,000 a year. >> this taxes a million people. >> 97%. >> and you're going to increase -- >> we are not going to cut the defense budget. >> no massive defense increase?
how do you do that? >> a proposed $478 billion cut to defense. now we have another $500 billion cut defense that is working on the horizon. they insisted upon that being involved in the debt negotiations. >> no one wants that, but i want to know how you do the math. >> you do not cut the defense by a trillion dollars. we will cut 80,000 soldiers, 20,000 marines, 120 cargo planes. if these cuts go through, our navy will be the smallest it has been since before world war i.
this invites weakness. do we believe in peace through strength? you bet we do. do not cut the military by a trillion dollars. not increase it by a trillion, do not cut it by a trillion. >> we do not cut it. this so-called automatic cut, that was part of the debt deal they asked for. let me tell you what my friend said at a press conference. we have been looking for this moment for a long time. >> can i tell you what that meant? >> the bipartisanship was what he voted for the automatic cuts in defense because they did not act. the military says, we need a smaller army. we need more special forces. we do not need more tanks.
that was the decision of the joint chiefs of staff. recommended to us and agreed by the president. >> i would like to get into afghanistan. that is one of the biggest expenditures this country has made. we just passed the sad milestone of losing 2000 u.s. troops. more than 50 of them were killed by the very afghan forces we're trying to help. we have reached the recruiting goal for afghan forces. tell me, why not leave now? what more can we accomplish? is it worth more american lives? >> we do not want to lose the gains we have gotten. we want to make sure the taliban does not come back in and give al qaeda a safe haven.
when i think about afghanistan, i think about the incredible job our troops have done. you have been there more than the two of us combined. the first time i was there, it was amazing to me what they were facing. i went to the argonaut valley before the surge, i sat down with a young private who would tell me what he did every day. to see what they had in front of them. to go back in december, to see what they had accomplished, it is nothing short of amazing. what we do not want to do is lose the gains we have gotten. we have disagreed on a few issues. we would have taken into account the recommendations from our commanders, general petraeus, on troop levels. we have been skeptical about negotiations with the taliban. especially while they are shooting at us. but we want to see the 2014 transition be successful. we want to make sure our
commanders have what they need to make sure it is successful. >> martha, let's keep our eye on the ball. i have been to afghanistan and iraq 20 times. i have been throughout that whole country. we went there for one reason. to get those people who killed americans. al qaeda. we decimated al qaeda central. we have eliminated osama bin laden. that was our purpose. in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the afghan military. it is their responsibility to take over their own security. that is why, with 49 of our allies in afghanistan, we have agreed on a gradual drawdown. we're out of there in the year 2014.
it is based on conditions. it does not depend for us. it is the responsibility of the afghans to take care of their own security. we have trained over 315,000, mostly without incident. there have been more than two dozen cases of green on blue. if the measures the military has taken do not take hold, we will not go on joint patrols. we will only train in the army bases that exist there. we are leaving. we are leaving in 2014, period. but then in the process we will be saving another $800 billion. we have been in this war for over a decade. the primary objective is almost completed.
we are putting the kabul government in a position to maintain their responsibility. it is their responsibility, not a americans. >> what conditions could justify staying? >> one of my best friends in jamesville is at an operating base in afghanistan right now. our wives and daughters are best friends. i want him and all of our troops to come home as soon and safely as possible. we want to make sure we give our commanders what they say to make it successful. if it wasn't just this, i feel like we would be -- if it was just this, i feel like we would be able to call it successful. we turn on our televisions and see the unraveling of the obama foreign-policy.
problems are growing abroad, but jobs are not growing at home. >> he says we are absolutely leaving in 2014. you are saying that is not an absolute. >> do you know what we say that? we do not want to broadcast to our enemies, put a date on their calendar, wait us out, and come back. we do agree with the timeline and the transition. what any administration will do in 2013 is access the situation to see how to deal with the timeline. we do not want to give our allies reasons to trust us less and we do not want to emboldened our enemies to hold and wait out for us. >> that is a bizarre statement. 49 of our allies signed on to
this position. 49. of 49 said out in 2014. that is the responsibility of the afghans. >> we have afghan forces murdering our forces over there. the taliban, the thing they are taking advantage of this time line? >> what we saw in iraq, unless you set a time line, they will not step up. they're happy to let us continue to do the job. the only way they step up is to say, fellows, we are leaving. we have to train you, step up. >> let me go back to the surged
troops. you brought this up. i have talked to a lot of officers who were concerned that the surge troops were pulled out. some of them saw that as a political movement. can you tell me, what was the military reason for bringing them home? >> when the president announced the surge, you will remember he said the surge will be out by the end of the summer. the military said the surge will be out. there is nothing political about this. before the surge occurred, we said that they will be out by the end of the summer. that is what the military said. >> the military follows orders. there are people concerned about pulling out --
>> there are people concerned, but not the joint chiefs. that was their recommendation to the president. i sat there. i am sure you will find somebody who disagrees within the pentagon. that is not the case here. the reason the military said that is, you cannot wait and have a cliff. it takes months and months to draw down forces. >> i think this can get a little confusing. we have all met with general allan. the taliban and the terrorists come over from pakistan to fight our men and women. when it is frozen with snow, they cannot do it. and in the warm months, fighting gets really high.
when general petraeus said if people these people out, it puts us more at risk, that puts us at more at risk. the remaining troops that still have the mission to prosecute are doing it with your people, that makes them less safe. we are sending fewer people out and all of the hot spots to do the same job they were supposed to do a month ago. >> we turned them over to the afghan troops we trained. nobody was pulled out of that did that get to build an by trained afghan personnel. he is conflating two issues. the fighting issue that the general petraeus was talking about was the fighting season this spring.
>> the calendar works the same every year. >> it does work the same every year. >> it is warm or it is not. they're still fighting over us and coming over the passes. there are still coming over to all of these areas. we are still sending fewer people to the front to fight to them. >> that as the afghan responsibility. we have trained them. >> not in the east. >> the east is the most dangerous place -- >> that is why -- >> you would remove -- you would whether americans be doing the job? >> fewer of them. >> we are sending in more afghans to do the job. waret's move to the civil in syria or there are estimates that over 25,000 or 30,000 people have been killed.
in march president obama explained the military action taken in libya saying it was in the national interest to prevent further massacres from occurring there. why does the same logic not apply in syria? >> it is a different country. it is five times as large a geographically. it has one-fifth the population of libya. it is a part of the world it would not see whatever come from that war to seep into a regional war. you are in a country heavily populated in the midst of the most dangerous area of the world. if it blows up and it the wrong people gain control, it will have impact on the entire region causing potentially regional wars. we are working with the turks, the jordanians, the saudis and with all the people i in the
region trying to identify the people who deserve the help so when assad goes, there will be a legitimate government that follows on. all of the loose talk of my friend, governor romney and the congressman, about how we could do so much more. what more would they do other than put american boots on the ground? the last thing america needs is to get into in the ground war in the middle east requiring a hundred thousand american forces. they are the facts. every time the american -- every time the governor is asked about this, he goes up with a whole lot of the verbiage. when he gets pressed, he says he would not do anything different that we are doing now. are they proposing putting american troops until the ground?
they should speak up and say so. that is not what they are saying. we are doing it exactly like we need to do to identify those forces who in fact will provide for stable government and not cause a regional suni shiite war when assad falls. >> nobody is proposing sending american troops to syria. we would not refer to asad as a reformer when he is killing his of civilians. we would not be outsourcing our foreign policy to the united nations giving vladimir putin veto power over our efforts with this issue. hillary clinton went to russia to try to convince him not to do so. she said they are on the wrong
side of history. she is right about that. where are we? after international pressure mounted, and has been over one year, the man has slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people, more fighters are spilling into the country. the longer this is going on, the more groups like al qaeda are going in. we could have more easily identified a free syrian army working with our allies, the turks, had we had a better plan in place to begin with working through our allies. we waited to try to come up with an agreement with the un, that bought assad time. meanwhile, 30,000 syrians are dead. >> what would my friend do
differently? if you notice he never asks -- he never answers a question differently. >> you do not go through the un. >> we have been in the process for months making sure humanitarian aid and other training is getting through to those forces we believe, the turks believe, the jordanians believe, the saudis believe are the free forces inside of syria. our allies were all on the same page. nato as well as our arab allies in trying to get a settlement, that was their idea. we are the ones that said enough. with regard to the reset not working, the fact of the matter is russia has a different interest in the syrian that we do and that is not in our interest. >> what happens if assad does not fall?
>> iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. he will keep slaughtering his people. we will lose our credibility on this. >> what would romney/ryan do? >> we agree with chemical weapons, but not about putting troops in. what we should have done earlier is work with those freedom fighters, those in syria. we should not have called assad a reformer. we should not have voided for russia to give us the green light at the u. n. they are still arming the man. they are flying flights over iraq to help assad. if we had the agreement he said about ira, we probably would
have prevented that. >> let me ask you quickly what is your criteria for intervention. >> in syria? what is in the interests of the american people. >> no humanitarian. >> each situation will come up with its own set of circumstances. putting american troops on the ground, that has to be within the national security interests of the american people. embargoes and sanctions -- those are things that do not put american troops on the ground. if you are talking about putting troops on the ground, only in our interests. >> i want to return home for the last few questions. this debate is historic. we have two catholic candidates, first time on a stage such as this.
i would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion. please talk about how you came to that decision. talking about how your religion played a part in that. this is such an emotional issue for so many in this country. please talk personally about this if you could. >> i do not see how a person can separate their personal life from their public life and their faith. our faith informs us and everything we do. it informs me of how to make sure people have a chance in life. if you want to ask why i am pro-life, it is not simply because of my catholic faith. that is a factor of course. it is also because of reason and science. i think about 10 and a half
years ago, my wife jan and i went to mercy hospital where i was born for our seventh week ultrasound for our firstborn child. we saw the heartbeat. our little baby was in the shape of the been. to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child "bean." i believe life begins at conception. those are the reasons i am pro- life. i understand this is a difficult issue. i respect people who do not agree with me on this. the policy of a mitt romney administration is to oppose abortion with the exceptions for a rape and the life of the mother. what troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. look at what they are doing through obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. they are infringing upon our
first free them. the freedom of religion by infringing on catholic charities, churches, catholic hospitals. our church should not have to sue the federal government to maintain religious liberties. with respect to abortion, the democratic party used to sit want to be safe, legal, and rare. now the support it without restrictions and tax payer funding. the vice president himself went to china. he said he sympathized or would not second-guess their one child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. that to me as pretty extreme. >> my religion defines who i am. i have been a practicing catholic my whole life. it has informed my social doctrine. it talks about taking care of those who cannot take care of
themselves. people who need help. with regard to a abortion, i accept my church's position on abortion as a doctrine. i refuse to impose it on the equally devout christians and muslims and jews -- i refuse to impose that on others of like my friend here, the congressmen. i do not believe we have a right to tell other people -- other women they cannot control their bodies. i will not interfere with that. with regard to the assault on the catholic church, let me make it clear. no religious institution, catholic or otherwise, including catholic social services, any hospital, none has
to be there refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, and that has to be a vehicle to get contraception until any policy they provide. that is a fact. with regard to the way in which we differ, my friend says -- i guess he accepts governor romney's position now. in the past he has argued there is a rape, forcible rape, in the case of rape or it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. i fundamentally disagree with my friend. >> all i am saying is if you believe life begins at conception, that does not change the definition of life. that is a principle. the policy of a romney
administration is to oppose abortions with exceptions for rape,, and life of the mother. i have to take issue with the catholic church and religious liberty. if they agree with you, why would they keep suing you? >> i want to go back to the abortion question. if the romney-ride ticket is elected, should those who believe abortion is legal be worried? >> we do not believe judges should make the decision that people through their elected representatives and a consensus through the democratic process to make the determination. >> the next president will get one or two supreme court nominations. that is how close roe vs wade is.
who do you think he is likely to appoint? do you think he is likely to appoint somebody like judge scalia or somebody who would outlaw abortion? i suspect that what happened. i guarantee that will not happen. we pay people open-minded. they have been good justices. >> was there a litmus test on that? >> we picked people with an open mind and who did not come with an agenda. >> i will move on to disclose in question because we are out of time. you have said the two of the respect our troops enormously. your son has served, and perhaps someday your children will serve as well. i recently spoke to a highly decorated soldier who said this presidential campaign has left him this made. he told me the ads are so negative and all tearing down
each other rather than building of the country. what would you say to the american hero about the campaign? at the end of the day, are you ever embarrassed by the tone? >> i would say, we only have one truly sacred obligation as a government to equip those we sen in harm's way and care for those who come home. that is the only sacred obligation that we have. everything else falls behind that. i would also tell him the fact that he, this decorated soldier, fought for his country, that should be honored. he should not be thrown into a category of a 47% who did not fight -- do not pay their taxes while he was fighting and somehow not taking
responsibility. i would also tell him there are things that have occurred in this campaign that i am sure both of us regret having said, particularly in the special, new groups that go out there and raise all of the money they want, they can say the most scurrilous things about the other candidate. it is an abomination. the bottom line is, that he wrote you have reference, take a look at whether governor romney or president obama has the conviction to help lift up the middle class, restore them to where they were before the recession hit and they were wiped out or whether they will continue to focus on taking care of only the wealthy and not ask them to take any part in paying the deal of bringing back the middle class of the country. i would ask them to take a look
at whether the president has acted wisely in the use of force and whether a not -- whether or not the comments made by governor romney served our interests very well. there are things that have been said in campaigns that i find it not very appealing. >> i would first of all thank him for doing a service to our country. i say we will not impose devastating cuts to our military never compromise their safety. i would say you have a president to ran four years ago promising hope and change who has turned this campaign into attack, blame, and in the same. if you do not have a good record to run on, then you paint your opponent as somebody to run from. that is what president obama said in 2008, that is what he is doing now. look at the string of broken promises. if you like your health care plan, you can keep that.
try telling that to the millions of people who are projected to lose it. remember when he said this, i guarantee if you make less than $250,000 your taxes will not go up. 12 of the tax increases in obamacare went to the middle class. health insurance premiums will go down and. i promise i will cut the deficit in half. we have had four budgets. a debt crisis is coming. we cannot keep spending and borrowing like this. it mabuswe cannot keep spending
money we do not have. leaders fix problems. president obama has not put a credible plan on the table in any of his four years. i passed two budgets to deal with this. mitt romney has put suggestions out. we ask for a plan, they sent a press secretary. they give us a copy of the speech appeared be asked with the plan was to prevent a debt crisis. they said, a speech. we cannot estimate speeches. that is what we get, speeches. we are not getting leadership. mitt romney is qualified to fix the problems. his lifetime of experience is, what do we have for a president? he broke his promise to bring people together to solve the biggest problems. i would tell him we do not have to settle for this. >> i hope i will get equal time. >> you will get a few seconds, really. >> the two budgets the
congressman has introduced have even serrated all of the things the middle-class has cared about. it will kick 200,000 children off of early educated. it will eliminate the tax credit people have to send children to college. it cuts education by $450 billion. it does virtually nothing except continue to increase the tax breaks to the wealthy. the idea that he is so concerned about the deficits, he voted to put two wars on a credit card. >> we're going to closing statements in a minute. >> our budget, we have not -- >> i want to talk to you very briefly before we go to closing statements about your own personal character.
if he were elected, what could be both give to this country as a man, a human being, that nobody else could it? >> honesty. there are plenty of fine people that could lead this country. there are people who say when they are going to do something, they go do it. what you need is one people see problems, they offer solutions to fix the problems. we're not getting that. we can grow the economy faster, that is what our five-point plan is all about. it is about getting people out of poverty into the middle class. that is about going with proven pro-growth policies that we know work getting people back to work. working with democrats -- that actually works sometimes. >> will we get to the issue of what you could bring as a man, and a human being? >> he gets 40, i get 15. >> he did not get 40. >> my record stands for itself.
i never say anything i did not mean. everybody knows whatever i say, i do. my whole life has been devoted to leveling the playing field for a middle-class people, treating main street and wall street the same. look at my record. it has been all about the middle class. they are the people who grow this country. we grow this country from the metal out, not from the top down. >> we turn to the candidates for their closing statements. >> let me say at the outset, i want to thank you for doing this. the fact is, we are at enter a situation where we inherited a got awful circumstances. people are in real trouble. we acted to bring relief to people who need the most help now.
in the process, in case you have not noticed, we have strong disagreements. you have probably detected my frustration with their attitude about the american people. my friend says 30% of the american people are takers. romney points out 40% of the people will not take responsibility. he is talking about my mother and father, my neighbors in scranton. he is talking about the people who built this country. all they are looking for is an even shot. whenever given the shot, they have done it. whenever you level the playing field, they have been able to move. the president and i are not going to rest until the plane field is level, they have a clear shot, and peace of mind.
until they can turn to their kid and said, honey, it will be ok. that is what this is all about. >> i want to thank you as well, martha. i want to thank you, joe. it has been an honor to engage in the critical debate. we face a very big choice. what kind of country are we going to be? what kind of country are we going to give our kids? president obama had his chance. he made his choices. his economic agenda, more spending, borrowing, higher taxes, a government takeover of health care -- it is not working. it has failed to create the jobs we need. 23 million americans are looking for work today. this is not what a real recovery looks like. you deserve better. mitt romney and i want to earn your support. we are offering real reforms for a real recovery for every american.
mitt romney, his experience, his ideas, his solutions is uniquely qualified to get the job done. at a time we have a jobs crisis until a america, would it not be nice to have a job creator in the white house? the choice is clear. a stagnant economy that promotes more government dependency, or a dynamic growing economy that provides opportunity and jobs. mitt romney and i will not duck the tough issues. we will not blame others for the next four years. we will take responsibility. we will not try to replace our founding principles. we will reapply our founding principles. the choice is clear. the choice rests with you. we ask you for your vote. thank you. >> thank you both again. thank you very much. this concludes the vice- presidential debate. please tune in next tuesday for the second presidential debate in new york. i do hope all of you go to the polls. have a good evening. [applause] [captions copyright national
>> here are some of your reactions to thursday's night's vice presidential debate. >> we ask viewers what they thought of the vice-presidential debate. >> i thought that he was very rude. he did not want to hear what ryan had said. i see the sincerity. i could feel his love for the people. on the other hand, first of
all, he needs to go to the doctor. he drinks a lot of water. >> i do not particularly care for his smiles and actuaries. i felt like paul ryan was very scripted. this is the way they have been training him. i felt like joe biden knew what he was talking about. >> he came across like a cranky old man. he was nearing. he was rude. a very disruptive, laughing, grimacing, shaking his head, pointing his finger. he spoke more than ryan did by over 1 minutes, almost two minutes.
>> i really enjoyed this debate. it was much more. i'm probably going to vote for the president again. i do not really like the way they are so conservative. closing statement was far superior. >> i was able to speak out more than obama. obama was interrupted more. i felt when obama comes back again he takes his own alarm clock to see who is talking more. >> i think it was nauseating the
way that mr. joe biden laughed all the way through. doesn't he take any seriously? he is as incompetent as obama. >> paul ryan held his own. he was very strong in his answers. he was respectful. who purred a burke -- who put a burrr in biden' s knickersw? ? >> that could have been more clarity. i mentioned before that the joe biden side was a live still used car salesman approach. i think he spouted out exactly
how he felt about it. ryan could have done a lot better. >> i am frustrated that they did not let gary johnson debate. >> i found that buys president biden was very clear and concise. i did not feel the credibility with ryan. but he seemed like he piggybacked on everything vice president by in said. >> i am going democrat. i think joe biden backed up with all the information. i can wanting the other side to give it to me. they did not show its. >> brian caught trying to do decorum. you cannot do that. the moderator allow in more
freestyle session. by then did his job. he needed to push. whether it was rude or not he pushed a lot. i saw the straight away. paul wright and needed to come back in could have said i am sorry, your not correct. he is trying to be polite. >> watch and engaged with c- span. >> this is not about governor bush or me. it is about you. i want to come back to something i have said before. if you want somebody who believed we were better off eight years ago than we are now and we ought to go back to the policies we had back then, here is your man. if you want somebody who will fight for you and will fight to have middle-class tax cuts, then
i in your band. i want to be. i doubt anybody here makes more than three under $30,000 a year. if you do, you are -- $330,000 a year. if you are, you are in the top%. if everyone here in this audience was dead on in the middle of the middle class, and then the tax cuts for every single one of you all added up would be less than the tax cut his plan would give to just one member of that top wealthiest 1%. you judge for yourself whether that is fair. >> 50 million americans get no tax relief under his plan. >> that is not right. we have had enough fighting. it is time to be united. in a years they have not done anything done on medicare, social security, a bill of
rights. >> presidential town hall debates began in 1992 with the then president george bush. in every election since, it had taken questions from undecided voters in the same town hall style. what president obama and their town hall debates. they live coverage as some of lot a.m. -- 7:00 p.m. eastern appeared quite not a look at the most recent presidential town hall. the 2008 meeting of senators john mccain and president obama. this was held at belmont university in tennessee. the questions came from undecided voters from the nashville area. tom brokaw was allowed to include questions submitted on- line. this is almost two hours. >> good evening from belmont university in nashville, tennessee. i'm tom brokaw of nbc news.
and welcome to this second presidential debate, sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. tonight's debate is the only one with a townhall format. the gallup organization chose 80 uncommitted voters from the nashville area to be here with us tonight. and earlier today, each of them gave me a copy of their question for the candidates. from all of these questions -- and from tens of thousands submitted online -- i have selected a long list of excellent questions on domestic and foreign policy. neither the commission nor the candidates have seen the questions. and although we won't be able to get to all of them tonight, we should have a wide-ranging discussion one month before the election. each candidate will have two minutes to respond to a common question, and there will be a one-minute follow-up. the audience here in the hall
has agreed to be polite, and attentive, no cheering or outbursts. those of you at home, of course, are not so constrained. the only exception in the hall is right now, as it is my privilege to introduce the candidates, senator barack obama of illinois and senator john mccain of arizona. gentlemen? [applause] gentlemen, we want to get underway immediately, if we can. since you last met at ole miss 12 days ago, the world has changed a great deal, and not for the better.
we still don't know where the bottom is at this time. as you might expect, many of the questions that we have from here in the hall tonight and from online have to do with the american economy and, in fact, with global economic conditions. i understand that you flipped a coin. and, senator obama, you will begin tonight. and we're going to have our first question from over here in section a from alan schaefer. >> with the economy on the downturn and retired and older citizens and workers losing their incomes, what's the fastest, most positive solution to bail these people out of the economic ruin? >> well, alan, thank you very much for the question. i want to first, obviously, thank belmont university, tom, thank you, and to all of you who are participating tonight and those of you who sent e-mail questions in. i think everybody knows now we are in the worst financial crisis since the great depression. and a lot of you i think are worried about your jobs, your pensions, your retirement accounts, your ability to send your child or your grandchild to college.
and i believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by president bush. and supported by senator mccain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us. it hasn't worked out that way. and so now we've got to take some decisive action. >> now, step one was a rescue package that was passed last week. we've got to make sure that works properly. and that means strong oversight, making sure that investors, taxpayers are getting their money back and treated as investors. it means that we are cracking down on ceos and making sure that they're not getting bonuses or golden parachutes as a consequence of this package. and, in fact, we just found out that aig, a company that got a bailout, just a week after they got help went on a $400,000 junket.
thei'll tell you what, treasury should demand that money back and those executives should be fired. but that's only step one. the middle-class need a rescue package. and that means tax cuts for the middle-class. it means help for homeowners so that they can stay in their homes. it means that we are helping state and local governments set up road projects and bridge projects that keep people in their jobs. to then long-term we've got fix our health care system, we've got to fix our energy system that is putting such an enormous burden on families. you need somebody working for you and you've got to have somebody in washington who is thinking about the middle class and not just those who can afford to hire lobbyists. >> senator mccain? >> well, thank you, tom. thank you, belmont university. and senator obama, it's good to be with you at a townhall meeting. and, alan, thank you for your question. you go to the heart of america's worries tonight. americans are angry, they're upset, and they're a little fearful.
it's our job to fix the problem. now, i have a plan to fix this problem and it has got to do with energy independence. we've got to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't want us very -- like us very much. we have to keep americans' taxes low. all americans' taxes low. let's not raise taxes on anybody today. we obviously have to stop this spending spree that's going on in washington. do you know that we've laid a $10 trillion debt on these young americans who are here with us tonight, $500 billion of it we owe to china? we've got to have a package of reforms and it has got to lead to reform prosperity and peace in the world. and i think that this problem has become so severe, as you know, that we're going to have to do something about home values. you know that home values of retirees continues to decline and people are no longer able to afford their mortgage payments. as president of the united states, alan, i would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in america and
renegotiate at the new value of those homes -- at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those -- be able to make those payments and stay in their homes. is it expensive? yes. but we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in america, we're never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy. and we've got to give some trust and confidence back to america. i know how the do that, my friends. and it's my proposal, it's not senator obama's proposal, it's not president bush's proposal. but i know how to get america working again, restore our economy and take care of working americans. thank you. >> senator, we have one minute for a discussion here. obviously the powers of the treasury secretary have been greatly expanded. the most powerful officer in the cabinet now. hank paulson says he won't stay on. who do you have in mind to appoint to that very important post?
senator mccain? >> not you, tom. >> no, with good reason. >> you know, that's a tough question and there's a lot of qualified americans. but i think the first criteria, tom, would have to be somebody who immediately americans identify with, immediately say, we can trust that individual. a supporter of senator obama's is warren buffett. he has already weighed in and helped stabilize some of the difficulties in the markets and with companies and corporations, institutions today. i like meg whitman, she knows what it's like to be out there in the marketplace. she knows how to create jobs. meg whitman was ceo of a company that started with 12 people and is now 1. 3 million people in america make their living off ebay. maybe somebody here has done a little business with them. but the point is it's going to have to be somebody who
inspires trust and confidence. because the problem in america today to a large extent, tom, is that we don't have trust and confidence in our institutions because of the corruption on wall street and the greed and excess and the cronyism in washington, d.c. >> all right. senator mccain -- senator obama, who do you have in mind for treasury secretary? >> well, warren would be a pretty good choice -- warren buffett, and i'm pleased to have his support. but there are other folks out there. the key is making sure that the next treasury secretary understands that it's not enough just to help those at the top. prosperity is not just going to trickle down. we've got to help the middle class. >> and we've -- you know, senator mccain and i have some fundamental disagreements on the economy, starting with senator mccain's statement earlier that he thought the fundamentals of the economy were sound. part of the problem here is that for many of you, wages and incomes have flat-lined. for many of you, it is getting harder and harder to save,
harder and harder to retire. and that's why, for example, on tax policy, what i want to do is provide a middle class tax cut to 95% of working americans, those who are working two jobs, people who are not spending enough time with their kids, because they are struggling to make ends meet. senator mccain is right that we've got to stabilize housing prices. but underlying that is loss of jobs and loss of income. that's something that the next treasury secretary is going to have to work on. >> senator obama, thank you very much. may i remind both of you, if i can, that we're operating under rules that you signed off on and when we have a discussion, it really is to be confined within about a minute or so. we're going to go now, senator mccain, to the next question from you from the hall here, and it comes from oliver clark , who is over here in section f. oliver? >> well, senator s, through this economic crisis, most of the people that i know have had a difficult time. and through this bailout package, i was wondering what it is that's going to actually
help those people out. >> well, thank you, oliver, and that's an excellent question, because as you just described it, bailout, when i believe that it's rescue, because -- because of the greed and excess in washington and wall street, main street was paying a very heavy price, and we know that. i left my campaign and suspended it to go back to washington to make sure that there were additional protections for the taxpayer in the form of good oversight, in the form of taxpayers being the first to be paid back when our economy recovers -- and it will recover -- and a number of other measures. but you know, one of the real catalysts, really the match that lit this fire was fannie mae and freddie mac. i'll bet you, you may never even have heard of them before this crisis. but you know, they're the ones
that, with the encouragement of senator obama and his cronies and his friends in washington, that went out and made all these risky loans, gave them to people that could never afford to pay back. and you know, there were some of us that stood up two years ago and said we've got to enact legislation to fix this. we've got to stop this greed and excess. meanwhile, the democrats in the senate and some -- and some members of congress defended what fannie and freddie were doing. they resisted any change. meanwhile, they were getting all kinds of money in campaign contributions. senator obama was the second highest recipient of fannie mae and freddie mac money in history -- in history. so this rescue package means that we will stabilize markets, we will shore up these institutions. but it's not enough. that's why we're going to have to go out into the housing market and we're going to have to buy up these bad loans and
we're going to have to stabilize home values, and that way, americans, like alan, can realize the american dream and stay in their home. but fannie and freddie were the catalysts, the match that started this forest fire. there were some of us -- there were some of us that stood up against it. there were others who took a hike. >> senator obama? >> well, oliver, first, let me tell you what's in the rescue package for you. right now, the credit markets are frozen up and what that means, as a practical matter, is that small businesses and some large businesses just can't get loans. if they can't get a loan, that means that they can't make payroll. if they can't make payroll, then they may end up having to shut their doors and lay people off. and if you imagine just one company trying to deal with that, now imagine a million companies all across the country. so it could end up having an adverse effect on everybody, and that's why we had to take action. but we shouldn't have been there in the first place. now, i've got to correct a little bit of senator mccain's history, not surprisingly. let's, first of all, understand that the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial
system. senator mccain, as recently as march, bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator. on the other hand, two years ago, i said that we've got a sub-prime lending crisis that has to be dealt with. i wrote to secretary paulson, i wrote to federal reserve chairman bernanke, and told them this is something we have to deal with, and nobody did anything about it. a year ago, i went to wall street and said we've got to re-regulate, and nothing happened. >> and senator mccain during that period said that we should keep on deregulating because that's how the free enterprise system works. now, with respect to fannie mae, what senator mccain didn't mention is the fact that this bill that he talked about wasn't his own bill. he jumped on it a year after it had been introduced and it never got passed. and i never promoted fannie mae. in fact, senator mccain's campaign chairman's firm was a
lobbyist on behalf of fannie mae, not me. so -- but, look, you're not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers. what you're interested in is trying to figure out, how is this going to impact you? this is not the end of the process, this is the beginning of the process. and that's why it's going to be so important for us to work with homeowners to make sure that they can stay in their homes. the secretary already has the power to do that in the rescue package, but it hasn't been exercised yet. and the next president has to make sure that the next treasury secretary is thinking about how to strengthen you as a home buyer, you as a homeowner, and not simply think about bailing out banks on wall street. >> senator obama, time for a discussion. i'm going to begin with you. are you saying to mr. clark and to the other members of the american television audience that the american economy is going to get much worse before it gets better and they ought to be prepared for that?
>> no, i am confident about the american economy. but we are going to have to have some leadership from washington that not only sets out much better regulations for the financial system. the problem is we still have a archaic, 20th-century regulatory system for 21st-century financial markets. we're going to have to coordinate with other countries to make sure that whatever actions we take work. but most importantly, we're going to have to help ordinary families be able to stay in their homes, make sure that they can pay their bills, deal with critical issues like health care and energy, and we're going to have to change the culture in washington so that lobbyists and special interests aren't driving the process and your voices aren't being drowned out. >> senator mccain, in all candor, do you think the economy is going to get worse before it gets better? >> i think it depends on what we do. i think if we act effectively, if we stabilize the housing market -- which i believe we can, if we go out and buy up these bad loans, so that people can have a new mortgage at the new value of their home -- i think if we get rid of the
cronyism and special interest influence in washington so we can act more effectively. my friend, i'd like you to see the letter that a group of senator s and i wrote warning exactly of this crisis. senator obama's name was not on that letter. the point is -- the point is that we can fix our economy. americans' workers are the best in the world. they're the fundamental aspect of america's economy. they're the most innovative. they're the best -- they're most -- have best -- we're the best exporters. we're the best importers. they're most effective. they are the best workers in the world. and we've got to give them a chance. they've got -- we've got to give them a chance to do their best again. and they are the innocent bystanders here in what is the biggest financial crisis and challenge of our time. we can do it. >> thank you, senator mccain. we're going to continue over in section f, as it turns out. senator obama, this is a question from you from theresa finch. theresa? >> how can we trust either of you with our money when both
parties got -- got us into this global economic crisis? >> well, look, i understand your frustration and your cynicism, because while you've been carrying out your responsibilities -- most of the people here, you've got a family budget. if less money is coming in, you end up making cuts. maybe you don't go out to dinner as much. maybe you put off buying a new car. that's not what happens in washington. and you're right. there is a lot of blame to go around. but i think it's important just to remember a little bit of history. when george bush came into office, we had surpluses. and now we have half-a- trillion-dollar deficit annually. when george bush came into office, our debt -- national debt was around $5 trillion. it's now over $10 trillion.
we've almost doubled it. and so while it's true that nobody's completely innocent here, we have had over the last eight years the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history. and senator mccain voted for four out of five of those george bush budgets. so here's what i would do. i'm going to spend some money on the key issues that we've got to work on. >> you know, you may have seen your health care premiums go up. we've got to reform health care to help you and your budget. we are going to have to deal with energy because we can't keep on borrowing from the chinese and sending money to saudi arabia. we are mortgaging our children's future. we've got to have a different energy plan. we've got to invest in college affordability. so we're going to have to make some investments, but we've also got to make spending cuts. and what i've proposed, you'll hear senator mccain say, well, he's proposing a whole bunch of new spending, but actually i'm cutting more than i'm spending so that it will be a net spending cut. the key is whether or not we've
got priorities that are working for you as opposed to those who have been dictating the policy in washington lately, and that's mostly lobbyists and special interests. we've got to put an end to that. >> senator mccain? >> well, theresa, thank you. and i can see why you feel that cynicism and mistrust, because the system in washington is broken. and i have been a consistent reformer. i have advocated and taken on the special interests, whether they be the big money people by reaching across the aisle and working with senator feingold on campaign finance reform, whether it being a variety of other issues, working with senator lieberman on trying to address climate change. i have a clear record of bipartisanship. the situation today cries out for bipartisanship. senator obama has never taken on his leaders of his party on a single issue. and we need to reform.
and so let's look at our records as well as our rhetoric. that's really part of your mistrust here. and now i suggest that maybe you go to some of these organizations that are the watchdogs of what we do, like the citizens against government waste or the national taxpayers union or these other organizations that watch us all the time. i don't expect you to watch every vote. and you know what you'll find? this is the most liberal big- spending record in the united states senate. i have fought against excessive spending and outrages. i have fought to reduce the earmarks and eliminate them. do you know that senator obama has voted for -- is proposing $860 billion of new spending now? new spending. do you know that he voted for every increase in spending that i saw come across the floor of the united states senate while we were working to eliminate these pork barrel earmarks? he voted for nearly a billion
dollars in pork barrel earmark projects, including, by the way, $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in chicago, illinois. my friends, do we need to spend that kind of money? i think you have to look at my record and you have to look at his. then you have to look at our proposals for our economy, not $860 billion in new spending, but for the kinds of reforms that keep people in their jobs, get middle-income americans working again, and getting our economy moving again. you're going to be examining our proposals tonight and in the future, and energy independence is a way to do that, is one of them. and drilling offshore and nuclear power are two vital elements of that. and i've been supporting those and i know how to fix this economy, and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, and stop sending $700 billion a year overseas. >> we've run out of time. we have this one-minute
discussion period going on here. there are new economic realities out there that everyone in this hall and across this country understands that there are going to have to be some choices made. health policies, energy policies, and entitlement reform, what are going to be your priorities in what order? which of those will be your highest priority your first year in office and which will follow in sequence? senator mccain? >> the three priorities were health. >> the three -- health care, energy, and entitlement reform, social security and medicare. in what order would you put them in terms of priorities? >> i think you can work on all three at once, tom. i think it's very important that reform our entitlement programs. my friends, we are not going to be able to provide the same benefit for present-day workers that we are going -- that present-day retirees have today. we're going to have to sit down across the table, republican and democrat, as we did in 1983 between ronald reagan and tip o'neill.
i know how to do that. i have a clear record of reaching across the aisle, whether it be joe lieberman or russ feingold or ted kennedy or others. that's my clear record. we can work on nuclear power plants. build a whole bunch of them, create millions of new jobs. we have to have all of the above, alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal technology. all of these things we can do as americans and we can take on this mission and we can overcome it. >> my friends, some of this $700 billion ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations. as far as health care is concerned, obviously, everyone is struggling to make sure that they can afford their premiums and that they can have affordable and available health care.
that's the next issue. but we can do them all at once. there's no -- and we have to do them all at once. all three you mentioned are compelling national security requirements. >> i'm trying to play by the rules that you all established. one minute for discussion. senator obama, if you would give us your list of priorities, there are some real questions about whether everything can be done at once. >> we're going to have to prioritize, just like a family has to prioritize. now, i've listed the things that i think have to be at the top of the list. energy we have to deal with today, because you're paying $3. 80 here in nashville for gasoline, and it could go up. and it's a strain on your family budget, but it's also bad for our national security, because countries like russia and venezuela and, you know, in some cases, countries like iran, are benefiting from higher oil prices. so we've got to deal with that right away. that's why i've called for an investment of $15 billion a year over 10 years. our goal should be, in 10 year's time, we are free of dependence on middle eastern oil. and we can do it. now, when jfk said we're going to the moon in 10 years, nobody was sure how to do it, but we understood that, if the american people make a decision to do something, it gets done. so that would be priority number one. health care is priority number two, because that broken health
care system is bad not only for families, but it's making our businesses less competitive. and, number three, we've got to deal with education so that our young people are competitive in a global economy. but just one point i want to make, tom. senator mccain mentioned looking at our records. we do need to look at our records. senator mccain likes to talk about earmarks a lot. and that's important. i want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper. but understand this, we also have to look at where some of our tax revenues are going. so when senator mccain proposes a $300 billion tax cut, a continuation not only of the bush tax cuts, but an additional $200 billion that he's going to give to big corporations, including big oil companies, $4 billion worth, that's money out of the system.
and so we've got to prioritize both our spending side and our tax policies to make sure that they're working for you. that's what i'm going to do as president of the united states. >> all right, gentlemen, i want to just remind you one more time about time. we're going to have a larger deficit than the federal government does if we don't get this under control here before too long. senator mccain, for you, we have our first question from the internet tonight. a child of the depression, 78- year-old fiora from chicago. since world war ii, we have never been asked to sacrifice anything to help our country, except the blood of our heroic men and women. as president, what sacrifices -- sacrifices will you ask every american to make to help restore the american dream and to get out of the economic morass that we're now in? >> well, fiora, i'm going to ask the american people to understand that there are some
programs that we may have to eliminate. i first proposed a long time ago that we would have to examine every agency and every bureaucracy of government. and we're going to have to eliminate those that aren't working. i know a lot of them that aren't working. one of them is in defense spending, because i've taken on some of the defense contractors. i saved the taxpayers $6. 8 billion in a deal for an air force tanker that was done in a corrupt fashion. i believe that we have to eliminate the earmarks. and sometimes those projects, not -- not the overhead projector that senator obama asked for, but some of them that are really good projects, will have -- will have to be eliminated, as well. and they'll have to undergo the same scrutiny that all projects should in competition with others. so we're going to have to tell the american people that spending is going to have to be cut in america. and i recommend a spending freeze that -- except for defense, veterans affairs, and some other vital programs, we'll just have to have across-the-
board freeze. and some of those programs may not grow as much as we would like for them to, but we can establish priorities with full transparency, with full knowledge of the american people, and full consultation, not done behind closed doors and shoving earmarks in the middle of the night into programs that we don't even -- sometimes we don't even know about until months later. and, by the way, i want to go back a second. >> look, we can attack health care and energy at the same time. we're not -- we're not -- we're not riflshots here. we are americans. we can, with the participation of all americans, work together and solve these problems together. frankly, i'm not going to tell that person without health insurance that, "i'm sorry, you'll have to wait." americansto tell you we'll get to work right away and we'll get to work together, and we can get them all done,
because that's what america has been doing. >> senator mccain, thank you very much. senator obama? >> you know, a lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11 and where you were on that day and, you know, how all of the country was ready to come together and make enormous changes to make us not only safer, but to make us a better country and a more unified country. and president bush did some smart things at the outset, but one of the opportunities that was missed was, when he spoke to the american people, he said, "go out and shop." that wasn't the kind of call to service that i think the american people were looking for. and so it's important to understand that the -- i think the american people are hungry for the kind of leadership that is going to tackle these problems not just in government, but outside of government. and let's take the example of energy, which we already spoke about.
there is going to be the need for each and every one of us to start thinking about how we use energy. i believe in the need for increased oil production. we're going to have to explore new ways to get more oil, and that includes offshore drilling. it includes telling the oil companies, that currently have 68 million acres that they're not using, that either you use them or you lose them. we're going to have to develop clean coal technology and safe ways to store nuclear energy. but each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy in our homes, in our buildings. and one of the things i want to do is make sure that we're providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that's made right here in the united states of america, not in japan or south korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient. require's going to effort from each and every one of us.
and the last point i just want to make. i think the young people of america are especially interested in how they can serve, and that's one of the reasons why i'm interested in doubling the peace corps, making sure that we are creating a volunteer corps all across this country that can be involved in their community, involved in military service, so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing america. that's something that all of us have to be involved with and that requires some leadership from washington. >> senator obama, as we begin, very quickly, our discussion period, president bush, you'll remember, last summer, said that "wall street got drunk." a lot of people now look back and think the federal government got drunk and, in fact, the american consumers got drunk. how would you, as president, try to break those bad habits of too much debt and too much easy credit, specifically, across the board, for this country, not just at the federal level, but
as a model for the rest of the country, as well? >> well, i think it starts with washington. we've got to show that we've got good habits, because if we're running up trillion dollar debts that we're passing on to the next generation, then a lot of people are going to think, "well, you know what? there's easy money out there." it means -- and i have to, again, repeat this. it means looking at the spending side, but also at the revenue side. i mean, senator mccain has been talking tough about earmarks, and that's good, but earmarks account for about $18 billion of our budget. now, when senator mccain is proposing tax cuts that would give the average fortune 500 ceo an additional $700,000 in tax cuts, that's not sharing a burden. and so part of the problem, i think, for a lot of people who are listening here tonight is they don't feel as if they are sharing the burden with other folks. i mean, you know, it's tough to ask a teacher who's making $30,000 or $35,000 a year to tighten her belt when people who are making much more than
her are living pretty high on the hog. and that's why i think it's important for the president to set a tone that says all of us are going to contribute, all of us are going to make sacrifices, and it means that, yes, we may have to cut some spending, although i disagree with senator mccain about an across-the- board freeze. that's an example of an unfair burden sharing. that's using a hatchet to cut the federal budget. >> i want to use a scalpel so that people who need help are getting help and those of us, like myself and senator mccain, who don't need help, aren't getting it. that's how we make sure that everybody is willing to make a few sacrifices. >> senator mccain? >> well, you know, nailing down senator obama's various tax proposals is like nailing jell- o to the wall. there has been five or six of them and if you wait long enough, there will probably be another one. but he wants to raise taxes. my friends, the last president to raise taxes during tough
economic times was herbert hoover, and he practiced protectionism as well, which i'm sure we'll get to at some point. you know, last year up to this time, we've lost 700,000 jobs in america. the only bright spot is that over 300,000 jobs have been created by small businesses. senator obama's secret that you don't know is that his tax increases will increase taxes on 50 percent of small business revenue. small businesses across america will have to cut jobs and will have their taxes increase and won't be able to hire because of senator obama's tax policies. you know, he said some time ago, he said he would forgo his tax increases if the economy was bad. senator some news,
obama, the news is bad. so let's not raise anybody's taxes, my friends, and make it be very clear to you i am not in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy. i am in favor of leaving the tax rates alone and reducing the tax burden on middle-income americans by doubling your tax exemption for every child from $3,500 to $7,000. to giving every american a $5,000 refundable tax credit and go out and get the health insurance you want rather than mandates and fines for small businesses, as senator obama's plan calls for. and let's create jobs and let's get our economy going again. and let's not raise anybody's taxes. >> senator obama, we have another question from the internet. >> tom, can i respond to this briefly? because. >> well, look, guys, the rules were established by the two campaigns, we worked very hard
on this. this will address, i think, the next question. >> the tax issue, because i think it's very important. go ahead. >> there are lots of issues that we are going to be dealing with here tonight. and we have a question from langdon in ballston spa, new york, and that's about huge unfunded obligations for social security, medicare, and other entitlement programs that will soon eat up all of the revenue that's in place and then go into a deficit position. since the rules are pretty loose here, i'm going to add my own to this one. instead of having a discussion, let me ask you as a coda to that. would you give congress a date certain to reform social security and medicare within two years after you take office? because in a bipartisan way, everyone agrees, that's a big ticking time bomb that will eat us up maybe even more than the mortgage crisis. >> well, tom, we're going to have to take on entitlements and i think we've got to do it quickly. we're going to have a lot of work to do, so i can't guarantee that we're going to do it in the next two years, but i'd like to do in the my first term as president. but i think it's important to
understand, we're not going to solve social security and medicare unless we understand the rest of our tax policies. and you know, senator mccain, i think the "straight talk express" lost a wheel on that one. so let's be clear about my tax plan and senator mccain's, because we're not going to be able to deal with entitlements unless we understand the revenues coming in. i want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of americans, 95 percent. if you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up. if you make $200,000 a year or less, your taxes will go down. now, senator mccain talks about small businesses. only a few percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. so the vast majority of small businesses would get a tax cut under my plan.
and we provide a 50 percent tax credit so that they can buy health insurance for their workers, because there are an awful lot of small businesses that i meet across america that want to do right by their workers but they just can't afford it. some small business owners, a lot of them, can't even afford health insurance for themselves. now, in contrast, senator mccain wants to give a $300 billion tax cut, $200 billion of it to the largest corporations and a hundred thousand of it -- a hundred billion of it going to people like ceos on wall street. he wants to give average fortune 500 ceo an additional $700,000 in tax cuts. that is not fair. and it doesn't work. >> now, if we get our tax policies right so that they're good for the middle class, if we reverse the policies of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place and that senator mccain supported, then we are going to be in a position to deal with social security and deal with medicare, because we will have a health care plan that actually works for you, reduces spending
and costs over the long term, and social security that is stable and solvent for all americans and not just some. >> senator mccain, two years for a reform of entitlement programs? >> sure. hey, i'll answer the question. look -- look, it's not that hard to fix social security, tom. it's just. >> and medicare. >> tough decisions. i want to get to medicare in a second. social security is not that tough. we know what the problems are, my friends, and we know what the fixes are. we've got to sit down together across the table. it's been done before. i saw it done with our -- our wonderful ronald reagan, a conservative from california, and the liberal democrat tip o'neill from massachusetts. that's what we need more of, and that's what i've done in washington. senator obama has never taken on his party leaders on a single major issue. i've taken them on. i'm not too popular sometimes with my own party, much less his. so medicare, it's going to be a
little tougher. it's going to be a little tougher because we're talking about very complex and difficult issues. my friends, what we have to do with medicare is have a commission, have the smartest people in america come together, come up with recommendations, and then, like the base-closing commission idea we had, then we should have congress vote up or down. let's not let them fool with it anymore. there's too much special interests and too many lobbyists working there. so let's have -- and let's have the american people say, "fix it for us." now, just back on this -- on this tax, you know, again, it's back to our first question here about rhetoric and record. senator obama has voted 94 times to either increase your taxes or against tax cuts. that's his record. when he ran for the united states senate from illinois, he said he would have a middle- income tax cut. you know he came to the senate and never once proposed legislation to do that? so let's look at our record. i've fought higher taxes. i have fought excess spending. i have fought to reform government. let's look at our records, my
>> senator mccain, thank you very much. i'm going to stick by my part of the pact and not ask a follow-up here. the next question does come from the hall for senator mccain. it comes from section c over here, and it's from ingrid jackson. ingrid? >> senator mccain, i want to know, we saw that congress moved pretty fast in the face of an economic crisis. i want to know what you would do within the first two years to make sure that congress moves fast as far as environmental issues, like climate change and green jobs? >> well, thank you. look, we are in tough economic times, we all know that. and let's keep -- never forget the struggle that americans are in today. but when we can -- when we have an issue that we may hand our children and our grandchildren a damaged planet, i have disagreed strongly with the bush administration on this issue.
i traveled all over the world looking at the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, joe lieberman and i. and i introduced the first legislation, and we forced votes on it. that's the good news, my friends. the bad news is we lost. but we kept the debate going, and we kept this issue to -- to posing to americans the danger that climate change opposes. now, how -- what's -- what's the best way of fixing it? nuclear power. senator obama says that it has to be safe or disposable or something like that. look, i -- i was on navy ships that had nuclear power plants. nuclear power is safe, and it's clean, and it creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. and -- and i know that we can reprocess the spent nuclear fuel. the japanese, the british, the french do it. and we can do it, too. senator obama has opposed that. we can move forward, and clean up our climate, and develop green technologies, and alternate -- alternative energies for -- for hybrid, for
hydrogen, for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs. we can do that, we as americans, because we're the best innovators, we're the best producers, and 95% of the people who are our market live outside of the united states of america. >> senator obama? >> this is one of the biggest challenges of our times. >> and it is absolutely critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it's an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily, here in the united states. it can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades. and we can do it, but we're going to have to make an investment. the same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch
of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we've got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well. and that's why we've got to make some investments and i've called for investments in solar, wind, geothermal. contrary to what senator mccain keeps on saying, i favor nuclear pow as one component of our overall energy mix. but this is another example where i think it is important to look at the record. senator mccain and i actually agree on something. he said a while back that the big problem with energy is that for 30 years, politicians in washington haven't done anything. what senator mccain doesn't mention is he's been there 26 of them. and during that time, he voted 23 times against alternative fuels, 23 times. so it's easy to talk about this stuff during a campaign, but it's important for us to understand that it requires a
sustained effort from the next president. one last point i want to make on energy. senator mccain talks a lot about drilling, and that's important, but we have three percent of the world's oil reserves and we use 25 percent of the world's oil. so what that means is that we can't simply drill our way out of the problem. and we're not going to be able to deal with the climate crisis if our only solution is to use more fossil fuels that create global warming. we're going to have to come up with alternatives, and that means that the united states government is working with the private sector to fund the kind of innovation that we can then export to countries like china that also need energy and are setting up one coal power plant a week. we've got to make sure that we're giving them the energy that they need or helping them to create the energy that they need. >> gentlemen, you may not have noticed, but we have lights around here. they have red and green and yellow and they are to signal.
>> i'm just trying to keep up with john. >> tom, wave like that and i'll look at you. >> all right, senator . here's a follow-up to that, one- minute discussion. it's a simple question. >> sure. >> should we fund a manhattan- like project that develops a nuclear bomb to deal with global energy and alternative energy or should we fund 100,000 garages across america, the kind of industry and innovation that developed silicon valley? >> i think pure research and development investment on the part of the united states government is certainly appropriate. i think once it gets into productive stages, that we ought to, obviously, turn it over to the private sector. by the way, my friends, i know you grow a little weary with this back-and-forth. it was an energy bill on the floor of the senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by bush and cheney. you know who voted for it? you might never know. that one. you know who voted against it? me.
i have fought time after time against these pork barrel -- these bills that come to the floor and they have all kinds of goodies and all kinds of things in them for everybody and they buy off the votes. i vote against them, my friends. i vote against them. but the point is, also, on oil drilling, oil drilling offshore now is vital so that we can bridge the gap. we can bridge the gap between imported oil, which is a national security issue, as well as any other, and it will reduce the price of a barrel of oil, because when people know there's a greater supply, then the cost of that will go down. that's fundamental economics. we've got to drill offshore, my friends, and we've got to do it now, and we can do it. and as far as nuclear power is concerned, again, look at the record. senator obama has approved storage and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. and i'll stop, tom, and you didn't even wave. thanks. >> thank you very much, senator . next question for you, senator
obama, and it comes from the e section over here and it's from lindsey trellow. lindsey? >> senator, selling health care coverage in america as the marketable commodity has become a very profitable industry. do you believe health care should be treated as a commodity? >> well, you know, as i travel around the country, this is one of the single most frequently asked issues that i get, is the issue of health care. it is breaking family budgets. i can't tell you how many people i meet who don't have health insurance. if you've got health insurance, most of you have seen your premiums double over the last eight years. and your co-payments and deductibles have gone up 30% just in the last year alone. if you're a small business, it's a crushing burden. so one of the things that i
have said from the start of this campaign is that we have a moral commitment as well as an economic imperative to do something about the health care crisis that so many families are facing. so here's what i would do. if you've got health care already, and probably the majority of you do, then you can keep your plan if you are satisfied with it. you can keep your choice of doctor. we're going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year. and we're going to do it by investing in prevention. we're going to do it by making sure that we use information technology so that medical records are actually on computers instead of you filling forms out in triplicate when you go to the hospital. that will reduce medical errors and reduce costs. if you don't have health insurance, you're going to be able to buy the same kind of insurance that senator mccain and i enjoy as federal employees. because there's a huge pool, we can drop the costs. and nobody will be excluded for pre-existing conditions, which is a huge problem. now, senator mccain has a
different kind of approach. he says that he's going to give you a $5,000 tax credit. what he doesn't tell you is that he is going to tax your employer-based health care benefits for the first time ever. so what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away. he would also strip away the ability of states to provide some of the regulations on insurance companies to make sure you're not excluded for pre- existing conditions or your mammograms are covered or your maternity is covered. and that is fundamentally the wrong way to go. in fact, just today business organizations like the united states chamber of commerce, which generally are pretty supportive of republicans, said that this would lead to the unraveling of the employer-based health care system. that, i don't think, is the kind of change that we need. we've got to have somebody who is fighting for patients and making sure that you get decent, affordable health care. and that's something that i'm committed to doing as president. >> senator mccain? >> well, thank you for the
question. you really identified one of the really major challenges that america faces. co-payments go up, costs go up, skyrocketing costs, which make people less and less able to afford health insurance in america. and we need to do all of the things that are necessary to make it more efficient. let's put health records online, that will reduce medical errors, as they call them. let's have community health centers. let's have walk-in clinics. let's do a lot of things to impose efficiencies. but what is at stake here in this health care issue is the fundamental difference between myself and senator obama. as you notice, he starts talking about government. he starts saying, government will do this and government will do that, and then government will, and he'll impose mandates. if you're a small business person and you don't insure your employees, senator obama will fine you. will fine you. that's remarkable.
if you're a parent and you're struggling to get health insurance for your children, senator obama will fine you. i want to give every american a $5,000 refundable tax credit. they can take it anywhere, across state lines. why not? don't we go across state lines when we purchase other things in america? of course it's ok to go across state lines because in arizona they may offer a better plan that suits you best than it does here in tennessee. and if you do the math, those people who have employer-based health benefits, if you put the tax on it and you have what's left over and you add $5,000 that you're going to get as a refundable tax credit, do the math, 95% of the american people will have increased funds to go out and buy the insurance of their choice and to shop around and to get -- all of those people will be covered except for those who have these gold-plated cadillac kinds of
policies. you know, like hair transplants, i might need one of those myself. but the point is that we have got to give people choice in america and not mandate things on them and give them the ability. every parent i know would acquire health insurance for their children if they could. obviously small business people want to give their employees health insurance. of course they all want to do that. we've got to give them the wherewithal to do it. we can do it by giving them, as a start, a $5,000 refundable tax credit to go around and get the health insurance policy of their choice. >> quick discussion. is health care in america a privilege, a right, or a responsibility? senator mccain? >> i think it's a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every american citizen, to every family member. and with the plan that -- that i have, that will do that.
but government mandates i -- i'm always a little nervous about. but it is certainly my responsibility. it is certainly small-business people and others, and they understand that responsibility. american citizens understand that. employers understand that. but they certainly are a little nervous when senator obama says, if you don't get the health care policy that i think you should have, then you're going to get fined. and, by the way, senator obama has never mentioned how much that fine might be. perhaps we might find that out tonight. >> well, why don't -- why don't -- let's talk about this, tom, because there was just a lot of stuff out there. >> privilege, right or responsibility. let's start with that. >> well, i think it should be a right for every american. in a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills -- for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to
pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that. so let me -- let me just talk about this fundamental difference. and, tom, i know that we're under time constraints, but senator mccain through a lot of stuff out there. number one, let me just repeat, if you've got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it. all i'm going to do is help you to lower the premiums on it. you'll still have choice of doctor. there's no mandate involved. small businesses are not going to have a mandate. what we're going to give you is a 50 percent tax credit to help provide health care for those that you need. now, it's true that i say that you are going to have to make sure that your child has health care, because children are relatively cheap to insure and we don't want them going to the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma. and when senator mccain says that he wants to provide children health care, what he doesn't mention is he voted against the expansion of the children's health insurance program that is responsible for making sure that so many children who didn't have previously health insurance have it now. now, the final point i'll make
on this whole issue of government intrusion and mandates -- it is absolutely true that i think it is important for government to crack down on insurance companies that are cheating their customers, that don't give you the fine print, so you end up thinking that you're paying for something and, when you finally get sick and you need it, you're not getting it. and the reason that it's a problem to go shopping state by state, you know what insurance companies will do? they will find a state -- maybe arizona, maybe another state -- where there are no requirements for you to get cancer screenings, where there are no requirements for you to have to get pre-existing conditions, and they will all set up shop there. that's how in banking it works. everybody goes to delaware, because they've got very -- pretty loose laws when it comes to things like credit cards. and in that situation, what happens is, is that the
protections you have, the consumer protections that you need, you're not going to have available to you. that is a fundamental difference that i have with senator mccain. he believes in deregulation in every circumstance. that's what we've been going through for the last eight years. it hasn't worked, and we need fundamental change. >> senator, we want to move on now. if we'd come back to the hall here, we're going to shift gears here a little bit and we're going to go to foreign policy and international matters, if we can. >> i don't believe that -- did we hear the size of the fine? >> phil elliott is over here in this section, and phil elliott has a question for senator mccain. phil? >> yes. senator mccain, how will all the recent economic stress affect our nation's ability to act as a peacemaker in the world? >> well, i thank you for that question, because there's no doubt that history shows us that nations that are strong militarily over time have to have a strong economy, as well. and that is one of the challenges that america faces. but having said that, america
-- and we'll hear a lot of criticism. i've heard a lot of criticism about america, and our national security policy, and all that, and much of that criticism is justified. but the fact is, america is the greatest force for good in the history of the world. my friends, we have gone to all four corners of the earth and shed american blood in defense, usually, of somebody else's freedom and our own. >> so we are peacemakers and we're peacekeepers. but the challenge is to know when the united states of american can beneficially effect the outcome of a crisis, when to go in and when not, when american military power is worth the expenditure of our most precious treasure. and that question can only be answered by someone with the knowledge and experience and the judgment, the judgment to know when our national security is not only at risk, but where the united states of america
can make a difference in preventing genocide, in preventing the spread of terrorism, in doing the things that the united states has done, not always well, but we've done because we're a nation of good. and i am convinced that my record, going back to my opposition from sending the marines to lebanon, to supporting our efforts in kosovo and bosnia and the first gulf war, and my judgment, i think, is something that i'm -- a record that i'm willing to stand on. senator obama was wrong about iraq and the surge. he was wrong about russia when they committed aggression against georgia. and in his short career, he does not understand our national security challenges. we don't have time for on-the- job training, my friends. >> senator obama, the economic constraints on the s. s. military action around the world. >> well, you know, senator mccain, in the last debate and today, again, suggested that i
don't understand. it's true. there are some things i don't understand. i don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while osama bin laden and al qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us. that was senator mccain's judgment and it was the wrong judgment. when senator mccain was cheerleading the president to go into iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we'd be greeted as liberators. that was the wrong judgment, and it's been costly to us. so one of the difficulties with iraq is that it has put an enormous strain, first of all, on our troops, obviously, and they have performed heroically and honorably and we owe them an extraordinary debt of gratitude. but it's also put an enormous strain on our budget. we've spent, so far, close to $700 billion and if we continue
on the path that we're on, as senator mccain is suggesting, it's going to go well over $1 trillion. we're spending $10 billion a month in iraq at a time when the iraqis have a $79 billion surplus, $79 billion. and we need that $10 billion a month here in the united states to put people back to work, to do all these wonderful things that senator mccain suggested we should be doing, but has not yet explained how he would pay for. now, senator mccain and i do agree, this is the greatest nation on earth. we are a force of good in the world. but there has never been a nation in the history of the world that saw its economy decline and maintained its military superiority. and the strains that have been placed on our alliances around the world and the respect that's been diminished over the
last eight years has constrained us being able to act on something like the genocide in darfur, because we don't have the resources or the allies to do everything that we should be doing. that's going to change when i'm president, but we can't change it unless we fundamentally change senator mccain's and george bush's foreign policy. it has not worked for america. >> senator obama, let me ask you if -- let's see if we can establish tonight the obama doctrine and the mccain doctrine for the use of united states combat forces in situations where there's a humanitarian crisis, but it does not affect our national security. take the congo, where 4. 5 million people have died since 1998, or take rwanda in the earlier dreadful days, or somalia. what is the obama doctrine for use of force that the united states would send when we don't have national security issues at stake? >> well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake. if we could have intervened effectively in the holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?
if we could've stopped rwanda, surely, if we had the ability, that would be something that we would have to strongly consider and act. so when genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us. >> and so i do believe that we have to consider it as part of our interests, our national interests, in intervening where possible. but understand that there's a lot of cruelty around the world. we're not going to be able to be everywhere all the time. that's why it's so important for us to be able to work in concert with our allies. let's take the example of darfur just for a moment. right now there's a peacekeeping force that has been set up and we have african union
troops in darfur to stop a genocide that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. we could be providing logistical support, setting up a no-fly zone at relatively little cost to us, but we can only do it if we can help mobilize the international community and lead. and that's what i intend to do when i'm president. >> senator mccain, the mccain doctrine, if you will. >> well, let me just follow up, my friends. if we had done what senator obama wanted done in iraq, and that was set a date for withdrawal, which general petraeus, our chief -- chairman of our joint chiefs of staff said would be a very dangerous course to take for america, then we would have had a wider war, we would have been back, iranian influence would have increased, al qaeda would have re- established a base. there was a lot at stake there, my friends. and i can tell you right now that senator obama would have brought our troops home in defeat. i'll bring them home with victory and with honor and that is a fundamental difference. the united states of america, tom, is the greatest force for good, as i said.
and we must do whatever we can to prevent genocide, whatever we can to prevent these terrible calamities that we have said never again. but it also has to be tempered with our ability to beneficially affect the situation. that requires a cool hand at the tiller. this requires a person who understands what our -- the limits of our capability are. we went in to somalia as a peacemaking organization, we ended up trying to be -- excuse me, as a peacekeeping organization, we ended up trying to be peacemakers and we ended up having to withdraw in humiliation. in lebanon, i stood up to president reagan, my hero, and said, if we send marines in there, how can we possibly beneficially affect this situation? and said we shouldn't. unfortunately, almost 300 brave young marines were killed. so you have to temper your decisions with the ability to beneficially affect the situation and realize you're
sending america's most precious asset, american blood, into harm's way. and, again, i know those situations. i've been in them all my life. and i can tell you right now the security of your young men and women who are serving in the military are my first priority right after our nation's security. and i may have to make those tough decisions. but i won't take them lightly. and i understand that we have to say never again to a holocaust and never again to rwanda. but we had also better be darn sure we don't leave and make the situation worse, thereby exacerbating our reputation and our ability to address crises in other parts of the world. >> senator mccain, thank you very much. next question for senator obama, it comes from the f section and is from katie hamm. katie? >> should the united states respect pakistani sovereignty and not pursue al qaeda terrorists who maintain bases
there, or should we ignore their borders and pursue our enemies like we did in cambodia during the vietnam war? >> katie, it's a terrific question and we have a difficult situation in pakistan. i believe that part of the reason we have a difficult situation is because we made a bad judgment going into iraq in the first place when we hadn't finished the job of hunting down bin laden and crushing al qaeda. so what happened was we got distracted, we diverted resources, and ultimately bin laden escaped, set up base camps in the mountains of pakistan in the northwest provinces there. they are now raiding our troops in afghanistan, destabilizing the situation. they're stronger now than at any time since 2001. and that's why i think it's so important for us to reverse course, because that's the central front on terrorism. they are plotting to kill americans right now. as secretary gates, the defense
secretary, said, the war against terrorism began in that region and that's where it will end. so part of the reason i think it's so important for us to end the war in iraq is to be able to get more troops into afghanistan, put more pressure on the afghan government to do what it needs to do, eliminate some of the drug trafficking that's funding terrorism. but i do believe that we have to change our policies with pakistan. we can't coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars and then he's making peace treaties with the taliban and militants. >> what i've said is we're going to encourage democracy in pakistan, expand our nonmilitary aid to pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants. and if we have osama bin laden in our sights and the pakistani government is unable or
unwilling to take them out, then i think that we have to act and we will take them out. we will kill bin laden, we will crush al qaida. that has to be our biggest national security priority. >> senator mccain? >> well, katie, thank you. you know, my hero is a guy named teddy roosevelt. teddy roosevelt used to say walk softly -- talk softly, but carry a big stick. senator obama likes to talk loudly. in fact, he said he wants to announce that he's going to attack pakistan. remarkable. you know, if you are a country and you're trying to gain the support of another country, then you want to do everything you can that they would act in a cooperative fashion. when you announce that you're going to launch an attack into another country, it's pretty obvious that you have the effect that it had in pakistan, it turns public opinion against us.
now, let me just go back with you very briefly. we drove the russians out with -- the afghan freedom fighters drove the russians out of afghanistan, and then we made a most serious mistake. we washed our hands of afghanistan. the taliban came back in, al qaida, we then had the situation that required us to conduct the afghan war. now, our relations with pakistan are critical, because the border areas are being used as safe havens by the taliban and al qaida and other extremist organizations, and we have to get their support. now, general petraeus had a strategy, the same strategy -- very, very different, because of the conditions and the situation -- but the same fundamental strategy that succeeded in iraq. and that is to get the support of the people. we need to help the pakistani government go into waziristan, where i visited, a very rough country, and -- and get the support of the people, and get them to work with us and turn
against the cruel taliban and others. and by working and coordinating our efforts together, not threatening to attack them, but working with them, and where necessary use force, but talk softly, but carry a big stick. >> senator mccain. >> just a quick follow-up on this. i think. >> if we're going to have follow-ups, then i will want follow-ups, as well. >> no, i know. so but i think we get at it. >> it'd be fine with me. it'd be fine with me. >> if i can, with this question. >> then let's have one. >> all right, let's have a follow-up. >> it'd be fine with me. >> just -- just -- just a quick follow-up, because i think -- i think this is important. >> i'm just the hired help here, so, i mean. >> you're doing a great job, tom. look, i -- i want to be very clear about what i said. nobody called for the invasion of pakistan. senator mccain continues to repeat this. what i said was the same thing that the audience here today heard me say, which is, if pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down bin laden and take him out, then we should.
now, that i think has to be our policy, because they are threatening to kill more americans. now, senator mccain suggests that somehow, you know, i'm green behind the ears and, you know, i'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible. >> thank you very much. >> senator mccain, this is the guy who sang, "bomb, bomb, bomb iran," who called for the annihilation of north korea. that i don't think is an example of "speaking softly." this is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished afghanistan, where he said, "next up, baghdad." so i agree that we have to speak responsibly and we have to act responsibly. and the reason pakistan -- the popular opinion of america had diminished in pakistan was because we were supporting a dictator, musharraf, had given him $10 billion over seven
years, and he had suspended civil liberties. we were not promoting democracy. this is the kind of policies that ultimately end up undermining our ability to fight the war on terrorism, and it will change when i'm president. >> and, tom, if -- if we're going to go back and forth, i then -- i'd like to have equal time to go -- to respond to. >> yes, you get the last word here, and then we have to move on. >> not true. not true. i have, obviously, supported those efforts that the united states had to go in militarily and i have opposed that i didn't think so. i understand what it's like to send young american's in harm's way. i say -- i was joking with a veteran -- i hate to even go into this. i was joking with an old veteran friend, who joked with me, about iran. but the point is that i know how to handle these crises. and senator obama, by saying that he would attack pakistan, look at the context of his words. i'll get osama bin laden, my friends. i'll get him.
i know how to get him. i'll get him no matter what and i know how to do it. but i'm not going to telegraph my punches, which is what senator obama did. and i'm going to act responsibly, as i have acted responsibly throughout my military career and throughout my career in the united states senate. and we have fundamental disagreements about the use of military power and how you do it, and you just saw it in response to previous questions. >> can i get a quick response from the two of you about developments in afghanistan this week? the senior british military commander, who is now leading there for a second tour, and their senior diplomatic presence there, sherard cowper- coles, who is well known as an expert in the area, both have said that we're failing in afghanistan. the commander said we cannot win there. we've got to get it down to a low level insurgency, let the afghans take it over. cowper-coles said what we need is an acceptable dictator. if either of you becomes president, as one of you will, how do you reorganize
afghanistan's strategy or do you? briefly, if you can. >> i'll be very brief. we are going to have to make the iraqi government start taking more responsibility, withdraw our troops in a responsible way over time, because we're going to have to put some additional troops in afghanistan. gen. mckiernan, the commander in afghanistan right now, is desperate for more help, because our bases and outposts are now targets for more aggressive afghan -- taliban offenses. we're also going to have to work with the karzai government, and when i met with president karzai, i was very clear that, "you are going to have to do better by your people in order for us to gain the popular support that's necessary." i don't think he has to be a dictator. and we want a democracy in afghanistan. but we have to have a government that is responsive to the afghan people, and, frankly,
it's just not responsive right now. >> senator mccain, briefly. >> gen. petraeus has just taken over a position of responsibility, where he has the command and will really set the tone for the strategy and tactics that are used. and i've had conversations with him. it is the same overall strategy. of course, we have to do some things tactically, some of which senator obama is correct on. we have to double the size of the afghan army. we have to have a streamlined nato command structure. we have to do a lot of things. we have to work much more closely with the pakistanis. but most importantly, we have to have the same strategy, which senator obama said wouldn't work, couldn't work, still fails to admit that he was wrong about iraq. he still will not admit that he was wrong about the strategy of the surge in iraq, and that's the same kind of strategy of go out and secure and hold and allow people to live normal lives.
and once they feel secure, then they lead normal, social, economic, political lives, the same thing that's happening in iraq today. so i have confidence that general petraeus, working with the pakistanis, working with the afghans, doing the same job that he did in iraq, will again. we will succeed and we will bring our troops home with honor and victory and not in defeat. >> senator mccain, this question is for you from the internet. it's from alden in hewitt, texas. how can we apply pressure to russia for humanitarian issues in an effective manner without starting another cold war? >> first of all, as i say, i don't think that -- we're not going to have another cold war with russia. but have no doubt that russia's behavior is certainly outside the norms of behavior that we would expect for nations which are very wealthy, as russia has become, because of their petro dollars. now, long ago, i warned about vladimir putin.
i said i looked into his eyes and saw three letters, a k, a g and a b. he has surrounded himself with former kgb apparatchiks. he has gradually repressed most of the liberties that we would expect for nations to observe, and he has exhibited most aggressive behavior, obviously, in georgia. i said before, watch ukraine. ukraine, right now, is in the sights of vladimir putin, those that want to reassemble the old soviet union. we've got to show moral support for georgia. >> we've got to show moral support for ukraine. we've got to advocate for their membership in nato. we have to make the russians understand that there are penalties for these this kind of behavior, this kind of naked aggression into georgia, a tiny country and a tiny democracy. and so, of course we want to bring international pressures to bear on russia in hopes that that will modify and eventually
change their behavior. now, the g-8 is one of those, but there are many others. but the russians must understand that these kinds of actions and activities are not acceptable and hopefully we will use the leverage, economic, diplomatic and others united with our allies, with our allies and friends in europe who are equally disturbed as we are about their recent behaviors. >> senator obama. >> it will not be a re-ignition of the cold war, but russia is a challenge. >> senator obama? we're winding down, so if we can keep track of the time. >> well, the resurgence of russia is one of the central issues that we're going to have to deal with in the next presidency. and for the most part i agree with senator mccain on many of the steps that have to be taken. but we can't just provide moral support. we've got to provide moral support to the poles and estonia and latvia and all of the nations that were former soviet satellites.
but we've also got to provide them with financial and concrete assistance to help rebuild their economies. georgia in particular is now on the brink of enormous economic challenges. and some say that that's what putin intended in the first place. the other thing we have to do, though, is we've got to see around the corners. we've got to anticipate some of these problems ahead of time. you know, back in april, i put out a statement saying that the situation in georgia was unsustainable because you had russian peacekeepers in these territories that were under dispute. and you knew that if the russians themselves were trying to obtain some of these territories or push back against georgia, that that was not a stable situation.
so part of the job of the next commander-in-chief, in keeping all of you safe, is making sure that we can see some of the 21st century challenges and anticipate them before they happen. we haven't been doing enough of that. we tend to be reactive. that's what we've been doing over the last eight years and that has actually made us more safe. that's part of what happened in afghanistan, where we rushed into iraq and senator mccain and president bush suggested that it wasn't that important to catch bin laden right now and that we could muddle through, and that has cost us dearly. we've got to be much more strategic if we're going to be able to deal with all of the challenges that we face out there. and one last point i want to make about russia. energy is going to be key in dealing with russia. if we can reduce our energy consumption, that reduces the amount of petro dollars that they have to make mischief around the world. that will strengthen us and weaken them when it comes to issues like georgia. >> this requires only a yes or a no. ronald reagan famously said that the soviet union was the evil empire. do you think that russia under
vladimir putin is an evil empire? >> i think they've engaged in an evil behavior and i think that it is important that we understand they're not the old soviet union but they still have nationalist impulses that i think are very dangerous. >> senator mccain? >> maybe. >> maybe. >> depends on how we respond to russia and it depends on a lot of things. if i say yes, then that means that we're reigniting the old cold war. if i say no, it ignores their behavior. obviously energy is going to be a big, big factor. and georgia and ukraine are both major gateways of energy into europe. and that's one of the reasons why it's in our interest. but the russians, i think we can deal with them but they've got to understand that they're facing a very firm and determined united states of america that will defend our
interests and that of other countries in the world. >> all right. we're going to try to get in two more questions, if we can. so we have to move along. over in section a, terry chary -- do i have that right, terry? >> senator, as a retired navy chief, my thoughts are often with those who serve our country. i know both candidates, both of you, expressed support for israel. if, despite your best diplomatic efforts, iran attacks israel, would you be willing to commit u.s. troops in support and defense of israel? or would you wait on approval from the u.n. security council? >> well, thank you, terry. and thank you for your service to the country. i want to say, everything i ever learned about leadership i learned from a chief petty officer. and i thank you, and i thank you, my friend. thanks for serving. let -- let -- let me say that we obviously would not wait for the united nations security council. i think the realities are that
both russia and china would probably pose significant obstacles. and our challenge right now is the iranians continue on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons, and it's a great threat. it's not just a threat -- threat to the state of israel. it's a threat to the stability of the entire middle east. if iran acquires nuclear weapons, all the other countries will acquire them, too. the tensions will be ratcheted up. what would you do if you were the israelis and the president of a country says that they are -- they are determined to wipe you off the map, calls your country a stinking corpse? now, senator obama without precondition wants to sit down and negotiate with them, without preconditions. that's what he stated, again, a matter of record. i want to make sure that the iranians are put enough -- that we put enough pressure on the iranians by joining with our allies, imposing significant,
tough sanctions to modify their behavior. and i think we can do that. i think, joining with our allies and friends in a league of democracies, that we can effectively abridge their behavior, and hopefully they would abandon this quest that they are on for nuclear weapons. but, at the end of the day, my friend, i have to tell you again, and you know what it's like to serve, and you know what it's like to sacrifice, but we can never allow a second holocaust to take place. >> senator obama? >> well, terry, first of all, we honor your service, and we're grateful for it. we cannot allow iran to get a nuclear weapon. it would be a game-changer in the region. not only would it threaten israel, our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world, but it would also create a possibility of nuclear weapons
falling into the hands of terrorists. and so it's unacceptable. and i will do everything that's required to prevent it. and we will never take military options off the table. and it is important that we don't provide veto power to the united nations or anyone else in acting in our interests. it is important, though, for us to use all the tools at our disposal to prevent the scenario where we've got to make those kinds of choices. and that's why i have consistently said that, if we can work more effectively with other countries diplomatically to tighten sanctions on iran, if we can reduce our energy consumption through alternative energy, so that iran has less money, if we can impose the kinds of sanctions that, say, for example, iran right now imports gasoline, even though it's an oil-producer, because its oil infrastructure has broken down. if we can prevent them from
importing the gasoline that they need and the refined petroleum products, that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. that starts putting the squeeze on them. now, it is true, though, that i believe that we should have direct talks -- not just with our friends, but also with our enemies -- to deliver a tough, direct message to iran that, if you don't change your behavior, then there will be dire consequences. if you do change your behavior, then it is possible for you to re-join the community of nations. now, it may not work. but one of the things we've learned is, is that when we take that approach, whether it's in north korea or in iran, then we have a better chance at better outcomes. when president bush decided we're not going to talk to iran, we're not going to talk to north korea, you know what happened? iran went from zero centrifuges to develop nuclear weapons to 4,000. north korea quadrupled its nuclear capability. talks,ot to try to have
understanding that we're not taking military options off the table. >> all right, gentlemen, we've come to the last question. and you'll both be interested to know this comes from the internet and it's from a state that you're strongly contesting, both of you. it's from peggy in amherst, n.h. and it has a certain zen-like quality, i'll give you a fair warning. she says, "what don't you know and how will you learn it?" senator obama, you get first crack at that. >> my wife, michelle, is there and she could give you a much longer list than i do. and most of the time, i learn it by asking her. but, look, the nature of the challenges that we're going to face are immense and one of the things that we know about the presidency is that it's never the challenges that you expect. it's the challenges that you don't that end up consuming most of your time. but here's what i do know. i know that i wouldn't be
standing here if it weren't for the fact that this country gave me opportunity. i came from very modest means. i had a single mom and my grandparents raised me and it was because of the help of scholarships and my grandmother scrimping on things that she might have wanted to purchase and my mom, at one point, getting food stamps in order for us to put food on the table. despite all that, i was able to go to the best schools on earth and i was able to succeed in a way that i could not have succeeded anywhere else in this country. the same is true for michelle and i'm sure the same is true for a lot of you. and the question in this election is, are we going to pass on that same american dream to the next generation? over the last eight years, we've seen that dream diminish. wages and incomes have gone down. people have lost their health care or are going bankrupt because they get sick.
we've got young people who have got the grades and the will and the drive to go to college, but they just don't have the money. and we can't expect that if we do the same things that we've been doing over the last eight years, that somehow we are going to have a different outcome. we need fundamental change. that's what's at stake in this election. that's the reason i decided to run for president, and i'm hopeful that all of you are prepared to continue this extraordinary journey that we call america. but we're going to have to have the courage and the sacrifice, the nerve to move in a new direction. thank you. >> senator mccain, you get the last word. senator obama had the opening. you're last up. >> well, thank you, tom. and i think what i don't know is what all of us don't know, and that's what's going to happen both here at home and abroad. the challenges that we face are unprecedented. americans are hurting tonight in a way they have not in our
generation. there are challenges around the world that are new and different and there will be different -- we will be talking about countries sometime in the future that we hardly know where they are on the map, some americans. so what i don't know is what the unexpected will be. but i have spent my whole life serving this country. i grew up in a family where my father was gone most of the time because he was at sea and doing our country's business. my mother basically raised our family. i know what it's like in dark times. i know what it's like to have to fight to keep one's hope going through difficult times. i know what it's like to rely on others for support and courage and love in tough times. i know what it's like to have your comrades reach out to you and your neighbors and your fellow citizens and pick you up and put you back in the fight.
that's what america's all about. i believe in this country. i believe in its future. i believe in its greatness. it's been my great honor to serve it for many, many years. and i'm asking the american people to give me another opportunity and i'll rest on my record, but i'll also tell you, when times are tough, we need a steady hand at the tiller and the great honor of my life was to always put my country first. thank you, tom. >> thank you very much, senator mccain. that concludes tonight's debate from here in nashville. we want to thank our hosts here at belmont university in nashville and the commission on presidential debates. and you're in my way of my script there, if you will move. in addition to everything else, there is one more presidential debate on wednesday, october 15, at hofstra university in new york, moderated by my friend, bob schieffer of "cbs news." thank you, senator mccain. thank you, senator obama. good night, everyone, from nashville.